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Major Iran steel company halts production after being hit by cyber attack

A worker stands near the production line in Khuzestan steel company on September 28, 2011 in Ahwaz, Khuzestan province, southern Iran. Iran [Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images]
A worker stands near the production line in Khuzestan steel company on September 28, 2011 in Ahwaz, Khuzestan province, southern Iran. Iran [Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images]

A major Iranian steel company has been forced to shut down production after it was hit by a cyber attack, in what is the latest of a series of attacks on Iranian sites in recent months.

According to Iranian media, the state-owned Khuzestan Steel Company said that experts had determined that its steel plant halt production until further notice "due to technical problems".

The company's CEO, Amin Ebrahimi, stated that it managed to thwart the cyber attack and prevented any serious structural damage which could affect supply chains, saying that "fortunately with time and awareness, the attack was unsuccessful".

READ: Middle East nuclear proliferation may be on the way, but the immediate threat is cyberwarfare

He added that the company's website, which went down following the attack, is expected to be restored and everything to return to "normal" by the end of today.

Ebrahimi did not blame any specific group for the attack at the time, however.

Based in Ahvaz in the oil-rich south-western Khuzestan province, the Khuzestan Steel Company is one of the most prominent companies in Iran's steel industry, having a monopoly on the metal's production, along with two other major state-owned firms.

Although the CEO and Iranian media did not immediately pinpoint any perpetrator of the cyber attack, it was soon claimed by Gonjeshke Darande – a hacker group opposed to the Iranian government – which stated on Twitter that "These companies are subject to international sanctions but continue their operations despite the restrictions." It insisted that the "cyber attacks, being carried out carefully to protect innocent individuals, are in response to the aggression of the Islamic Republic."

Some media outlets have reported that the group is linked to Israel, which has itself conducted numerous such attacks against Iranian sites, facilities and infrastructure over the years.

In what has become an undeclared cyber war between the two states, Tehran has struck back with its own operations against Israeli infrastructure, with Tel Aviv suspecting that an Iranian cyber attack was behind false siren alerts a week ago.

READ: Israel keen to set up cyber 'Iron Dome' to curb rise in attacks

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