US flag on screens as Iran hit by cyber attack

Hackers have attacked networks in a number of countries including data centres in Iran where they left the image of a US flag on screens along with a warning: “Don’t mess with our elections”, the Iranian IT ministry said on Saturday.

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“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 carried by Iran’s official news agency IRNA.

The statement said the attack, which hit internet service providers and cut off web access for subscribers, was made possible by a vulnerability in routers from Cisco which had earlier issued a warning and provided a patch that some firms had failed to install over the Iranian new year holiday.

A blog published on Thursday by Nick Biasini, a threat researcher at Cisco’s Talos Security Intelligence and Research Group, said: “Several incidents in multiple countries, including some specifically targeting critical infrastructure, have involved the misuse of the Smart Install protocol…
“As a result, we are taking an active stance, and are urging customers, again, of the elevated risk and available remediation paths.”

On Saturday evening, Cisco said those postings were a tool to help clients identify weaknesses and repel a cyber attack.

Iran’s IT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi posted a picture of a computer screen on Twitter with the image of the US flag and the hackers’ message. He said it was not yet clear who had carried out the attack.

Azari-Jahromi said the attack mainly affected Europe, India and the United States, state television reported.

Reuters

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