An Israeli suspected cyberattack has crippled Iranian shipping in the Strait of Hormuz for days, in apparent retaliation after an attempt from Tehran to hack Israeli water purification system.
Computer systems that are tasked to regulate traffic on waterways leading to the Shahid Rajaee port reportedly crashed simultaneously on May 9, creating chaos. Satellite images showed stranded ships at sea and miles-long queues of lorries on roads leading to the port.
While Tehran attempted to play down the impact of the cyberattack, western intelligence officials told The Washington Post that the cyberattack was the work of Israel and caused far more damage and disruption than the Islamic Republic wanted to admit.
“There was total disarray,” one official from an unnamed foreign government said.
The attack is considered a deep embarrassment for Tehran, given its aim to shut down shipping through the key strait, a leading conduit for oil.
The incident reportedly has not prevented other shipping from passing through but disrupted operations in Shahid Rajaee for days.
A day before the cyber attack two rural water distribution network systems in Israel were reportedly hacked but the intrusion was detected by Israeli cyber experts and cut off without any damage.
The Shahid Rajaee cyber-attack retaliation is considered the cyber equivalent of the strikes Tel Aviv made on Iranian targets in Syria.
Amos Yadlin, the former Israeli chief of defense intelligence, said that the tit-for-tat attacks represented a new evolution for the use of technology in warfare.
“Cyber is now being integrated to the ground, sea and aerial dimensions of combat as a major domain of warfighting,” he wrote on Twitter. “If this cyberattack was indeed Israel’s response to the Iranian attack on civilian infrastructure, Israel is sending an important message to Iran regarding the vulnerability of key elements of Iran’s economy.”