Major Iranian Steel Company Says Cyberattack Halted Production

Iranian Flag with a desert and road in the background

The Khuzestan Steel Company, a major Iranian state-owned entity, shut down production at one of its factories after it was hit by a cyberattack on Monday. A hacking group known as Gonjeshke Darande has taken responsibility for the attack, though there is a strong suspicion of Israel’s involvement.

Two other steel companies also faced attacks at their factories on Monday, one in Mobarakeh and the other in Bandar Abbas. However, the two steel mills are yet to acknowledge any damage or production halts as a result of the attack.

Details of the Cyberattacks on Iranian Steel Companies

Gonjeshke Darande said it carried out cyberattacks against Iran’s steel industry on Monday, June 27. The hackers added that they hit three targets: The Khuzestan Steel Company, The Mobarakeh Steel Company, and the Hormozgan Steel Company. In an announcement, the group noted that its targets continued operations despite being subject to international sanctions.

The hacking group posted a video on Twitter containing footage of a piece of heavy equipment malfunctioning and catching fire. The footage also contains text stating that the attacks were carried out in a manner that protects innocent individuals.

According to reports, Khuzestan Steel Company said the affected factory was shut down until further notice. The company website remains inaccessible at this time. Khuzestan Steel’s CEO, Amin Ebrahimi, said the company managed to thwart the cyberattack.

Suspected Israeli Involvement

While Gonjeshke Darande has claimed responsibility for the attacks, there is a strong suspicion of Israeli involvement. According to the Times of Israel, the country’s military correspondents hinted that Israel was directly responsible for the attack.

The same piece quotes Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaking on the subject of retaliatory action against countries launching cyberattacks against Israel.

“[The] approach with our enemies, especially Iran… we don’t go around wreaking havoc in Tehran — that’s never been our policy. Our policy is, if you mess with Israel, you’ll pay a price,” Bennett stated.

An Iran vs. Israel Cyberwar?

The attack against the Iranian steel companies is possibly in retaliation for a suspected Iranian cyberattack from a week ago. The attack triggered air raid sirens across Jerusalem and Eilat.

In recent years, the two countries have traded a number of high-profile cyberattacks, many of which have caused major disruptions. In March this year, Iran launched a massive DDoS attack against several Israeli government websites. The incident even forced Israel’s cyber agency to declare a state of emergency.

In October of last year, a cyberattack shut down gas stations across Iran, resulting in long queues of angry motorists.

Technology policy researcher
Prateek is a technology policy researcher with a background in law. His areas of interest include data protection, privacy, digital currencies, and digital literacy. Outside of his research interests, Prateek is an avid reader and is engaged in projects on sustainable farming practices in India.