Iran’s Nuclear Site Attacked Following Attempts To Hack Israel's Water System

There have been cyber attacks on Israel’s water treatment plant from Iran, and an attack response from Israel on an Iranian Nuclear plantWhen Iran cyber attacked Israel’s water supply system on April 24 and 25, it did more than just shut down computers and disrupt water system operations.  

The water facility attack was intended to release large amounts of poisonous chlorine into Israel’s water delivery infrastructure, potentially poisoning tens of thousands of Israelis. Now, Israel is thought to be responsible for two major explosions at Iranian facilities, one related to uranium enrichment, the other for missile production.

Some Iranian officials have blamed possible cyber attack similar to the previous Stuxnet sabotage of their nuclear facilities.  Newly released satellite imagery showed the damage from what Iranian authorities attributed to a fire at the Natanz nuclear facility was far more extensive that previously disclosed.

It is thought n Israeli cyber attack caused a fire and explosion at the largely underground Natanz nuclear enrichment facility and in a separate attack Israeli F-35 stealth jets bombed a site located in the area of Parchin, which is believed to house a missile production complex, an area of particular concern for Israel, due to increasing sophistication of missiles and rockets in the arsenals of Iranian allies in Lebanon and Gaza. Neither of these claims were confirmed by Israeli officials.

The alleged Israeli attacks also came amid an ongoing campaign of so-called maximum pressure by the United States in the form of heavy sanctions on Iran and Iranian officials.

Iranian Cyber Attack On Israel’s Water Supply 

Israel successfully thwarted a major cyber attack against its water systems last month, widely thought to have been the work of  Iran. The assault was a "synchronised and organised" attempt at disrupting key national infrastructure, cyber chief Yigal Unna said in a video address to CyberechLive Asia, a digital international cyber conference.

The water facility attack was to release large amounts of poisonous chlorine into Israel’s water delivery infrastructure, potentially poisoning tens of thousands of Israelis. It may indicate a growing threat of cyber-attacks throughout the world.

Researchers at FireEye concluded that the malware developed for this kind of attack came out of Russia and specifically from the Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics, a Russian government-owned technical research institution in Moscow.

The first known use of the malware was against a petrochemical facility in Saudi Arabia in 2017. It would appear the Russia-developed cyber-weapon was shared with Iranian government hackers. The attack was routed through servers in Europe and the United States to try to hide its origin. 

These rising attacks are attributed by US officials to international actors like China, Russia, and Iran. Covid-19-linked cyber-attacks reflect the huge competition among global pharmaceutical companies for windfalls and market share if a successful vaccine is developed. 

A growing concern in the US is that foreign equipment, mainly coming from China, can have built-in back doors or include malware buried in the code of the firmware or software that comes with the hardware. 

The Israeli security cabinet decided on the subsequent port attack instead of stronger military action. Israel’s response would likely have been far harsher had the Iranian attack accomplished its poisonous objective. 

The US probably would likewise react harshly if a critical infrastructure attack did any real and lasting damage and resulted in civilian casualties. No one can say for sure when, or if, that will happen but the potential for a cyber-driven military confrontation is rising.

Military Aerospace:       Asia Times:         Deutsche Welle:     Times of Israel:

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