Written by Staff Writer
Jalili said the assassination of a Saudi diplomat in Iran and Gulf airstrikes on Syria by Saudi Arabia were among other reasons for the terrorist attack, which left the Iranian Oil Ministry’s information center wired with cables.
CNN reported in January that a team of cyber-terrorists led by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and backed by Hezbollah had attacked the ministry with sophisticated malware that shut down gas stations, according to sources.
“This was intended to paralyze the whole administration, as well as the service departments of our oil fields and field offices and the provincial offices, but ultimately our operations were saved,” Jalili said.
While Jalili gave no details about the cyberattack, Reuters reported that the staff were targeted with a phishing campaign aimed at drawing them into a system designed to steal information.
A statement from the Iranian Ministry of Oil on Thursday claimed Iranian hackers hacked Saudi government computer systems in May 2013 in an attempt to launch cyberattacks.
“This is the first evidence that countries armed with nuclear weapons are more vulnerable to the Iranian cyber capabilities than those with conventional ones,” Jalili said.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said at the time the attack was “the primary reason” for the appointment of officials in the OPEC country.
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two largest oil exporters, have escalated sharply in recent months following Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shiite cleric and subsequent imposition of a travel ban on citizens of Iran and other Shiite countries in December.
Rouhani and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman shook hands during the Leaders’ Opening Ceremony of the Arab Youth Forum in the Saudi capital of Riyadh in March, and Iran also recently worked with the U.S. to take down ISIS cells on their soil in a coordinated operation that delivered 13 militants to the U.S.
Earlier Wednesday, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the cyberattack and reduced levels of crude oil production had had a “devastating” impact on OPEC negotiations.
“I think it has dealt a heavy blow to world oil markets,” Falih said at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, which is focused on challenges facing the natural resource sector.