Data centers in Iran were attacked by a network of hackers who left an image of a U.S. flag on the screens — as well as a warning for Iran not to mess with the elections in the U.S.
Reuters, citing the Iranian IT ministry, reported that the warning that appeared on the screens of the data center computers in Iran read, “Don’t mess with our elections,” and comes as concerns mount that foreign actors could try to influence the mid-term elections in the U.S. this coming November. “The attack apparently affected 200,000 router switches across the world in a widespread attack, including 3,500 switches in our country,” the Communication and Information Technology Ministry said in a statement which ran on Iran’s official news agency, IRNA. The government agency noted the attack was possible due to a vulnerability in routers which were provided by Cisco. Cisco has previously warned about the vulnerability and issued a patch that some firms did not install during the Iranian New Year’s holiday.
Iran’s IT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi posted a picture of the warning with the U.S. flag on Twitter over the weekend and said he doesn’t know who is behind the attack. He said it largely impacted Europe, India and the U.S. “Some 55,000 devices were affected in the United States and 14,000 in China, and Iran’s share of affected devices was 2 percent,” Azari-Jahromi said, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, Hadi Sajadi, deputy head of the Information Technology Organisation of Iran, said the attack was stopped within hours and that no data was lost as a result of it, reported Reuters.
The attack on the computer servers in Iran comes as the country is producing its own hackers that are getting busted by the U.S. In one of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) largest state-sponsored cyber attack cases, federal prosecutors unsealed criminal charges involving nine Iranians who allegedly stole data from organizations in the U.S. and overseas in late March. Prosecutors said at the time that over 31 terabytes were stolen from 144 U.S. universities, 36 U.S. businesses and five U.S. government agencies for financial gain. While the defendants have not been arrested and are reportedly abroad, they face multiple charges, such as wire fraud and conspiracy to commit computer intrusions.