Iran’s oil minister told the petroleum industry on Sunday to be on alert to physical and cyber attacks amid heightened tensions with the United States in the Gulf region.
“All companies and facilities of the oil industry should be fully alert to physical and cyber threats as sanctions target the petroleum industry,” Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in a statement, carried by the Oil Ministry’s news agency SHANA and reported by Reuters.
US media reports have said Washington was considering possible cyber attacks against Iran after the Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil sites, which US officials blamed on Tehran. Iran, however, has denied the charge.
Iran said on Wednesday it was inspecting security at key Gulf oil and gas facilities, including assessing preparedness for cyber attacks.
Reports on social media had said there was a cyber-attack on some petrochemical and other companies in Iran on Sept. 21, although a state body in charge of cyber security denied there had been a “successful” attack.
Zanganeh explained that these precautions are necessary in light of the US sanctions on Iran and the comprehensive economic war, which Tehran accuses Washington of waging against it.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with NBC that there is an ongoing cyber war between Iran and the United States.
He referred to Stuxnet, a malicious computer worm that is widely believed to be have been made by the US and Israel.
"There is a cyber war going on. The United States started that cyber war, with attacking our nuclear facilities in a very dangerous, irresponsible way that could've killed millions of people," he said.
"There is a cyber war and Iran is engaged in it,” he added, warning the United States from not being able to finish any war it starts against Iran.
Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, for his part, has earlier said that Iran is facing cyber-terrorism such as Stuxnet.
Iran has long been on alert for cyber threats after the United States and Israel covertly sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program in 2009 and 2010 with the Stuxnet computer virus, which destroyed Iranian centrifuges that were enriching uranium.