Predatory Sparrow (Gonjeshke Darande) claim cyberattack on Iran’s gas stations


08/16/2023 Tehran, Iran. A view of the single nozzle fuel dispenser of a gas station in Tehran. (Photo by Hossein Beris / Middle East Images / Middle East Images via AFP) (Photo by HOSSEIN BERIS/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images)

Hossein Beris | Afp | Getty Images

A hacking group widely reported as being linked to Israel has taken responsibility for a cyberattack that’s knocked out the majority of gas stations across Iran, leading to long lines of cars and angry crowds.

Iranian state TV cited the country’s Oil Minister Javad Owji saying that outside interference was a possible cause after 70% of Iran’s gas stations were hit by service disruptions, according to Reuters.

A group called Gonjeshke Darande, meaning Predatory Sparrow in Persian, claimed it was behind the attack in a post on the social media site X.

“We, Gonjeshke Darande, carried out another cyberattack today, taking out a majority of the gas pumps throughout Iran. This cyberattack comes in response to the aggression of the Islamic Republic and its proxies in the region,” the post read.

Addressing Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the group added: “Khamenei, playing with fire has a price.”

The hacker group appeared keen to emphasize its efforts to minimize harming ordinary people.

“As in our previous operations, this cyberattack was conducted in a controlled manner while taking measures to limit potential damage to emergency services,” it wrote in a subsequent post.

“We delivered warnings to emergency services across the country before the operation began, and ensured a portion of the gas stations across the country were left unharmed for the same reason, despite our access and capability to completely disrupt their operation.”

Gonjeshke Darande has claimed responsibility for previous cyberattacks on Iran, including on one of the country’s major steel companies in June 2022. That attack allegedly started a serious fire in one steel factory, with the group sharing CCTV footage of the incident. The plant’s CEO said that no one was hurt at the time.

During that attack, the hacker group released what it said were “top secret documents” that provided “evidence of these companies’ affiliation with the IRGC,” Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. It also stressed that measures were taken to avoid harm to civilians.

“These companies are subject to international sanctions and continue their operations despite the restrictions. These cyber-attacks [are] being carried out carefully to protect innocent individuals,” Gonjeshke Darande wrote in a Telegram post at the time.

As for the Monday hit to Iran’s gas stations, the country’s civil defense agency said an investigation was underway and that it was still examining all possible causes for the disruption. Israeli media has covered the alleged attack, but Israel’s government has not commented on it.

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