The Iranian hackers who in early April targeted Israel’s water system tried to trick the computers into increasing the amount of chlorine added to the treated water that flows to Israeli homes, a western official told The Financial Times on Sunday.
An Israeli official quoted in the report said the suspected attack had opened the door to “an unpredictable risk scenario”.
The official added that it had created a precedent for tit-for-tat cyber attacks on civilian infrastructure that both countries have so far avoided — and may still be keen to avoid.
An Iranian regime insider dismissed the allegations.
“Iran cannot politically afford to try to poison Israeli civilians. And even if Iran did so, where is the Israelis’ appropriate response?” the regime insider said, according to The Financial Times.
“Our suspicion is that Israelis want more money from the US and made up the whole thing. But the Americans are no idiots,” added the insider.
Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran’s mission to the UN, said Iran’s cyber activities “are purely defensive and protective”.
“As a victim of cyber warfare . . . and other cyber sabotages, we know well how destructive it can be,” Miryousefi said. “We have been continuously a target by malevolent forces, and will continue to defend against any attack.”
The Washington Post reported several weeks ago that an Iranian port facility was attacked by Israel in what appeared to be retaliation for the Iranian attack on Israel’s water system.
The Israeli Embassy did not respond to requests for comment. Israel Defense Forces declined to comment.
Both governments regularly accuse each other of nefarious activities.
In December of 2019, Iran’s telecommunications minister said the country had defused a cyberattack which was “aimed at spying on government intelligence”.
Last summer, it was reported that the US had launched a secret cyber attack against Iran. The attack reportedly wiped out a critical database used by Iran’s paramilitary arm to plot attacks against oil tankers and degraded Tehran’s ability to covertly target shipping traffic in the Persian Gulf.
Iran has disconnected much of its infrastructure from the internet after the Stuxnet computer virus which disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges in its nuclear sites in the late 2000s.
Stuxnet is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation, though Israel did not admit to being behind it. A 2012 report said that then-US President Barack Obama ordered the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran as part of a wave of cyber sabotage and espionage against the Islamic Republic.