'Unprecedented Chaos': Cyberattack Disrupts Iran Rail Network

Reuters
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A banner showing Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei receiving a vaccine against the coronavirus, Tehran, July 3, 2021.
A banner showing Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei receiving a vaccine against the coronavirus, Tehran, July 3, 2021. Credit: ATTA KENARE / AFP
Reuters

Train services in Iran were delayed by apparent cyberattacks on Friday, with hackers posting the phone number of the country's supreme leader as the number to call for information, state-affiliated news outlets reported.

Trains were delayed or cancelled as ticket offices, the national railway's website and cargo services were disrupted, with "unprecedented chaos at railway stations across the country", the state broadcaster IRIB reported.

A notice on electronic boards at stations asked travelers to call a number which in fact belonged to the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, IRIB and the semi-official news agency Fars said.

"Long delays due to cyberattacks," said another notice on station boards, Fars added.

IRIB later quoted a state railway company spokesman as saying technicians were checking the disruptions and denying that there were major delays.

Tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran have risen significantly, with Israel accusing Iran of attacking a commercial ship previously under Israeli ownership this month, following similar strikes on Israeli-owned ships occurring earlier in the year. On Tuesday, Iran accused Israel of mounting a sabotage attack on a nuclear facility near Tehran last month. 

In April, Iran’s underground Natanz nuclear facility experienced a mysterious blackout that damaged some of its centrifuges. Last July, unexplained fires struck the advanced centrifuge assembly plant at Natanz, which authorities later described as sabotage. Iran is now rebuilding that facility deep inside a nearby mountain.

Iran also blamed Israel for the November killing of a scientist who began the country’s military nuclear program decades earlier.

Haaretz and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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