Chaos at the Gas Pumps: 'Cyberattack 64411'

Hackers hit gas stations across Iran
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2021 6:50 AM CDT
Chaos at the Gas Pumps: 'Cyberattack 64411'
A worker leans against a gasoline pump that has been turned off at a gas station in Tehran, Iran, on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Long lines outside gas stations and an eyebrow-raising message were apparently the handiwork of hackers in Iran, where a cyberattack caused chaos Tuesday into Wednesday. "Cyberattack 64411" was what greeted some motorists at pumps instead of access to gas, according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency, which notes those numbers correspond to a hotline for the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reports NBC News. Those affected were trying to use government-issued cards to buy cheaper subsidized fuel, which is available for about 20 cents per gallon—41 cents per gallon after consumers reach a monthly quota, per the AP. Gas at higher, unsubsidized prices was reportedly still available.

The New York Times notes that most Iranians rely on the subsidized price, thanks to an economy roiled by "mismanagement, corruption, and American sanctions." Digital billboards in Tehran and other locations were also seemingly hacked, shown on social media flashing messages of "Khamenei, where is our fuel?" Even the ISNA report on the "64411" message is murky, with the AP noting that the news agency later claimed it had been hacked as well. That number had popped up in July, when Iran's railroad system was breached, supposedly by an independent hacker group called Indra (the name of the Hindu god of war).

An obscure group did claim responsibility for this latest attack on Tuesday on the Telegram app, but there's so far no proof it actually did so. Abolhassan Firoozabadi, the secretary of Iran's Supreme Council of Cyberspace, told state TV he believed it to be at the hands of a foreign country, though he can't say for sure at this point which one. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi similarly declined to assign blame, but he did say the attack was meant to get "people angry by creating disorder and disruption."

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"Technical experts are fixing the problem and soon the refueling process ... will return to normal," state broadcaster IRIB noted, per Reuters. Iran has blamed the US and Israel for online attacks in the past, while the US and other Western nations have pointed the finger at Iran and accused it of trying to breach its own networks, per NBC. The cyberattack comes almost two years after protests against spiking gas prices in Iran turned deadly in 2019, when security forces pushed back against protesters and left hundreds dead, according to Amnesty International. (More Iran stories.)

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