Reuters in Dubai
The Guardian, Tuesday 25 December 2012 16.40 GMT
An internet virus has attacked computers at industrial sites in southern Iran in an apparent extension of a covert cyberwar that initially targeted the country's nuclear facilities, an Iranian official has said.
Iran, the world's fifth biggest oil exporter, has tightened online security since its uranium enrichment centrifuges were hit in 2010 by the Stuxnet computer worm, which Tehran believes was planted by Israel or the United States.
The unit tasked with fighting cyber-attacks, the Passive Defence Organisation, said a virus had infected several sites in Hormozgan province in recent months but had been neutralised. "Enemies are constantly attacking Iran's industrial units through internet networks in order to create disruptions," Ali Akbar Akhavan, head of the Hormozgan branch of the organisation, was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students' News Agency.
"This virus has even penetrated some manufacturing industries in Hormozgan province but, with timely measures and the co-operation of skilled hackers in the province, the progress of this virus was halted," Akhavan said. Bandar Abbas is the capital of Hormozgan province on Iran's southern coast and home to an oil refinery and container port.