Monday, June 1, 2020

Failed cyberattack on a minor water facility in Israel in early April sought to poison water supply by exponentially increasing the amount of chlorine added to Israelis' water. Iranian official dismisses the allegations, says Tehran "cannot politically afford to try to poison Israeli civilians."

By  News Agencies and ILH Staff   Published on  06-01-2020 08:53

The failed Iranian cyberattack on a minor water facility in Israel in early April sought to poison the water supply delivered to hundreds of thousands on homes in the greater Tel Aviv area, The Financial Times on Sunday.

According to the report, the Iranian hackers sought to trick the facility's computers into exponentially increasing the amount of chlorine added to the water as a matter of routine, which would have made them extremely hazardous to consume.

An Israeli official quoted in the report said the suspected attack had opened the door to "an unpredictable risk scenario."

The incident had also created a precedent for tit-for-tat cyberattacks on civilian infrastructure that both countries have so far avoided.

According to the Washington Post, Israel was behind a recent cyber strike on Iran's Shahid Rajaee port – a newly constructed shipping terminal in the coastal city of Bandar Abbas, near the strategic Strait of Hormuz – mounted in retaliation for the targeting of the water facility.

An Iranian regime official dismissed the allegations, telling The Financial Times that "Iran cannot politically afford to try to poison Israeli civilians. And even if Iran did so, where is the Israelis' appropriate response?

"Our suspicion is that Israelis want more money from the US and made up the whole thing. But the Americans are no idiots," added the insider.

Iranian diplomat Alireza Miryousefi, the spokesman for the Islamic republic's US mission, said Iran's cyber activities "are purely defensive and protective."

"As a victim of cyber warfare and other cyber sabotage, we know well how destructive it can be," Miryousefi said. "We have been continuously a target by malevolent forces, and will continue to defend against any attack."

Iran has disconnected much of its infrastructure from the internet after the Stuxnet computer virus which disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges in its nuclear sites in the late 2000s.

Stuxnet is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation, though Israel did not admit to being behind it. A 2012 report said that then-US President Barack Obama ordered the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran as part of a cyber-sabotage wave and espionage against the Islamic republic.

Check Point Software Technologies founder and CEO Gil Shwed warned Monday that the world's new reality will drive an increase in cyber threats.

Speaking as part of the Israeli-American Council and Peres Center for Peace and Innovation's e-summit, Shwed said, "Cybersecurity will change a lot. What happened in the last three months pushed forward five, maybe even 10 years of technological evolution. More services moved online; companies removed barriers.

"After corona, if we say to ourselves the corona pandemic may be over [in Israel], we need to protect ourselves against the cyber pandemic that is coming. We know it will happen and we need to secure it."