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Iran group claim attacks on 28 Israeli railway stations

July 31, 2020 at 10:12 am

Passengers prepare to board a train at a railway station in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on June 22, 2020 [GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

A cyber cold war is raging between Iran and Israel as another Iranian group early Friday claimed to have launched a series of cyberattacks on Israel’s rail infrastructure since July 14, Anadolu Agency reports.

A group that goes by the name Cyber Avengers said in a statement it targeted more than 150 industrial servers of Israel’s railways, affecting operations at 28 train and subway stations.

The statement was published by Telegram channels that is  linked to Iran’s revolutionary guards (IRGC).

The “major cyber operation” was launched July 14 at 1.20 a.m. (2050GMT), the time of airstrikes on Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani in early January.

The operation continued for 10 days, ending July 24. However, the group warned the “worst is yet to come,” suggesting the cyber warfare between the two countries is likely to escalate.

The group also released a map of Israel’s rail network, identifying the 28 stations that were targeted, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion.

More than six days after the operation ended, it said stations were still dysfunctional owing to “severe damage to equipment and infrastructure.”

The aim of the operation, the anonymous group said, was to “show that we can plan the collision of tens of trains if we so wish.”

READ: Iran threatens retaliation against Israeli attacks on its nuclear facilities

The same group earlier this month claimed responsibility for massive power outages in Israel. The claim, however, could not be substantiated, according to cyber experts.

In recent months, cyber-attacks on Israel’s water infrastructure have been linked to Iran’s shadowy cyber groups, even though both sides have refused to officially confirm or deny them.

The cyber war gained momentum in April when a number of wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and sewage water units in Israel came under heavy and sophisticated cyberattacks.

The attacks, according to cyber experts, were carried out by hacking into the computer software of water pumps after routing through servers to hide the source of attacks.

In May, a bustling port in southern Iran came under a cyberattack, affecting traffic around the port for days. The attack was blamed on “foreign hackers,” without naming Israel.

Most recently, there have been a series of “mysterious” fire in Iran, triggering suspicion of sabotage. Iran’s government, however, has dismissed the speculation.

The incident at the Natanz nuclear plant earlier this month has been particularly curious. Iran’s top security body said it determined the “cause” but refused to divulge details for “security reasons.”

The latest cyber operation by an anonymous group, many believe, is part of the ongoing cyber cold war between the two long-time adversaries.

Hussain Estahdadi, Iranian journalist and cyber warfare analyst, in a post on Twitter said Israel has been “bluffing about its cyber security capabilities for the past decade.”

“How on earth could they not realize only a single one of these cyber-attacks on their railway system,” he wrote.

READ: Cyber-attack on Israel’s water system, again