Millions of ordinary people in Iran and Israel recently found themselves caught in the crossfire of a cyberwar between their countries, The New York Times reported.
In recent weeks, a cyberattack on Iran’s nationwide fuel distribution system paralyzed the country’s 4,300 gas stations, which took 12 days to have service fully restored, it said.
It was followed days later by cyberattacks in Israel against a major medical facility.
Hacks have been seeping into civilian arenas for months. Iran’s national railroad was attacked in July, but that relatively unsophisticated hack may not have been Israeli. And Iran is accused of making a failed attack on Israel’s water system last year.
The latest attacks are thought to be the first to do widespread harm to large numbers of civilians. Nondefense computer networks are generally less secure than those tied to state security assets.
Both countries appear to be striking out at civilians to send messages to their governments, said the New York Times.
Neither Israel nor Iran has publicly claimed responsibility or laid blame for the latest round of cyberattacks. Israeli officials refused to publicly accuse Iran, and Iranian officials have blamed the gas station attack on a foreign country, stopping short of naming one.
Experts say the cyberattacks on softer civilian targets could be the start of a new phase in the conflict.