Iran’s Foreign Ministry said cyber-attacks against the Islamic republic are launched by hostile governments as part of a broader “soft war” and will fail.
“Illegitimate regimes are producing viruses” and “trying to use the cyber space and this will not be really effective,” Ramin Mehmanparast, the ministry’s spokesman, told reporters in Tehran. He was commenting in response to a question about whether a newly detected virus, called Flame, had infected any Iranian computer systems. The Islamic republic has never recognized Israel as a legitimate state.
Iran, whose nuclear facilities and oil ministry have previously been the target of virus attacks, accuses the U.S. and Israel of trying to sabotage its technological progress. The U.S. and Israel say the country’s nuclear activities may have military intent, an allegation that Iran denies.
The Moscow-based information-technology security company Kaspersky Lab said on its website that the creators of Flame are seeking to collect information in some Middle Eastern countries including Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The software is a “highly sophisticated malicious program that is actively being used as a cyber-weapon” and can steal computer files, contact data and audio conversations, Kaspersky said. “Its complexity and functionality exceed those of all other cyber menaces known to date.”
Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon, asked about reports of a computer virus targeting Iranian computer systems, said it is “reasonable that whoever sees the Iranian threat as significant would use various measures, including this, in order to hurt it.”
Yaalon, a former army chief, also told Israel’s Army Radio today that “Israel is blessed as a country rich in advanced technology, and these tools open to us all sorts of possibilities.”
There are no sign of the virus in Palestinian computers and the situation is being monitoring, Sabri Sidem, an adviser on telecommunications to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said in an interview.
Almost two years ago, malicious software known as Stuxnet impacted computer systems and several centrifuges used in Iran to enrich uranium, Iranian officials said at the time. Stuxnet may have been part of a campaign to disrupt Iranian nuclear installations, international computer-security researchers have said. In April, Iranian officials said they managed to contain a cyber-attack that targeted the country’s crude industry and caused computer systems at the Oil Ministry and other related state-owned businesses to crash.