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Mon 23 Apr 2012 03:29 PM

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Iranian oil industry hit by cyber attack - report

Internet access at key Iranian oil facilities disrupted following attack on computer systems

Iranian oil industry hit by cyber attack - report
Iran has been targeted in cyber attacks in the past.
Iranian oil industry hit by cyber attack - report
Iranian President Ahmadinejad insists Irans nuclear programme is peaceful.

Iran's oil industry was the victim of a major cyber attack on Sunday, according to a report published in the Islamic Republic's state-controlled media.

The Iranian Oil Ministry, the National Iranian Oil Company and a number of other companies associated with the Iranian government were targeted by a computer worm, Mehr news agency reported today.

A worm is a computer virus that is capable of self-replicating in order to spread deeper into a computer system.

The report stated that all internet access at these entities was disrupted during the attack, but apparently caused no long-term damage to any of the systems it infected.

At the time of publication, however, none of the websites of the aforementioned entities were accessible.

Iranian officials are currently investigating the incident, the news agency said.

The incident is not the first time that Iran, the world's second largest OPEC oil producer, has been targeted in cyber attacks.

In 2010, the government revealed that it had discovered a virus known as 'Stuxnet' buried within centrifuges at the country's nuclear facility in Bushehr. The application, or 'malware' as malicious computer code is referred to, was apparently designed to cause severe damage to the country's nuclear energy programme.

Iranian authorities appeared to nullify Stuxnet before it achieved this aim.

The Islamic Republic's nuclear enrichment programme has been a major source of contention for the US and its allies, leading to stringent sanctions being placed on Iran which have eroded its stance as a major oil exporter.

Iran insists that its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes, although many Western governments suspect the country may be attempting to enrich uranium to a military grade level.

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