Iran’s Fars news agency is hit by cyberattacks, blames Israel

TEHRAN, Iran — Hackers have disrupted the work of Iran’s Fars news agency, one of the main sources of news disseminated by the state during protests over Mahsa Amini’s death, the agency said and appeared to blame Israel.

Iran has been rocked by protests since Amini’s death in custody on September 16, after her arrest for an alleged breach of the country’s dress code for women.

Fars said its website had been disrupted late Friday by a “complex hacking and cyberattack operation.”

“Removing possible bugs… may cause problems for some agency services for a few days,” it said in a statement posted Saturday on its Telegram channel.

“Cyberattacks against Fars news agency are carried out almost daily from different countries, including the occupied territories (Israel),” it added, without elaborating.

On October 21, a group called Black Reward said it had obtained documents related to Iran’s nuclear program, and demanded the release of all political prisoners and people arrested during the protests.

After its 24-hour ultimatum expired, the material on social media said to be released by the group included a short clip from a purported nuclear site in Iran, as well as documents.

On November 23, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran acknowledged that one of its subsidiaries had been targeted by “a specific foreign country,” while downplaying the importance of the documents in question.

Iran on the one side and Israel and the United States on the other have regularly accused each other of cyberattacks.

On Thursday, previously unseen footage that was published on the Telegram social media service by an Iranian hacker group showing a deadly bombing attack in Jerusalem a day earlier. The footage came from surveillance cameras used by a major Israeli security organization.

The group, Moses Staff, claimed it had hacked security cameras thought initially to have been operated by the police. Earlier this year, the group published footage from dozens of cameras throughout Jerusalem and some in Tel Aviv.

Footage from a surveillance camera shows a deadly bombing attack in Jerusalem, November 24, 2022. The video was published by an Iranian hacker group. (Screenshot: Telegram)

“We’ve been under surveillance [sic] you for many years, at every moment and on every step. This is just one part of our surveillance over your activities through access to CCTV cameras in the country. We had said that, we will strike you while you never would have imagined,” the group wrote on its Telegram channel in January.

Security officials confirmed that the camera in question was used by a major security organization, although they did not specify which.

Officials downplayed the incident, saying the camera, which can be remotely controlled to pan, tilt, and zoom, belonged to a civilian company that works with Israel’s security establishment.

“There is no security breach or leakage of classified information,” one official told Army Radio. The official said the camera is used “in a limited manner” by the security agency, and was not connected to its systems.

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