TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A cyberattack on Sunday disrupted access to Iran’s privately owned Mahan Air, state TV reported, marking the latest in a series of cyberattacks on Iranian infrastructure that has put the country on edge.
Mahan Air’s website displayed an error message saying the site couldn’t be reached. The carrier said in a statement that it had “thwarted” the attack and that its flight schedule was not affected, adding it has faced similar breaches in the past.
Many customers of Mahan Air across Iran received strange text messages on Sunday. A group calling itself Hoosyarane-Vatan, or Observants of Fatherland, claimed in the mass texts to have carried out the attack, citing the airline’s cooperation with Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. The self-described hacking group did not provide any evidence.
Mahan Air flies from Tehran to a few dozen destinations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The United States Treasury Department, which polices compliance with sanctions, blacklisted the airline in 2011 for allegedly “providing financial, material and technological support” to the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, responsible for the Islamic Republic’s campaigns abroad. The Treasury accused Mahan Air of ferrying weapons, goods and personnel to Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group.
Major cyberattacks have struck various Iranian systems in recent months, with one in October crippling gas stations across the country, leaving angry motorists stranded in long lines unable to use their government-issued cards to buy subsidized fuel. Without naming a specific country, President Ebrahim Raisi blamed the hack on anti-Iranian forces seeking to sow disorder and disruption.
Another attack targeted the railroad system, causing mass confusion with scores of trains delayed and canceled across Iran.