Wires

Cyber attackers target Iranian oil platforms -official

DUBAI, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Cyber attackers have targetedcommunication networks on Iranian offshore oil and gas platformsin the past few weeks, but their attacks have been repelled, astate official was quoted as saying on Monday.

Iran, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, has tightened cybersecurity since its uranium enrichment centrifuges were hit in2010 by the Stuxnet computer worm, which Tehran believes wasplanted by Israel or the United States.

Mohammad Reza Golshani, head of information technology forthe Iranian Offshore Oil Company, told Iran's Mehr news agencythat a cyber attack had targeted the offshore platforms'information networks.

"This attack was planned by the regime occupying Jerusalem(Israel) and a few other countries," Golshani said, adding thatIranian experts were able to repel the attacks.

"Currently telephone operations on the platforms and in theareas of Iran's oil and gas operations in the Persian Gulf arenormal and have no problems," he said.

Israeli officials regularly decline to comment onallegations of any clandestine activity. Israel has threatenedmilitary action against the Islamic Republic's nuclearinstallations if Western sanctions on Tehran's banking and oilsectors do not persuade it to shelve its disputed atomicprogramme.

Western powers suspect Iran is trying to develop the meansto produce nuclear weapons. Tehran says it is enriching uraniumonly for civilian energy.

Last week an Iranian official said cyber attackers hadtargeted Iranian infrastructure and communications companies,disrupting the Internet across the country.

And last month a commander in Iran's elite RevolutionaryGuards said Iran was prepared to defend itself in case of a"cyber war" and deemed it more dangerous than a physicalconfrontation.

In April Iranian authorities said in April that a computervirus was detected inside the control systems of Kharg Island,which handles the vast majority of Iran's crude oil exports, butthe terminal remained operational.

Tehran is working towards developing a national Internetsystem, which it says would improve cyber security. But manyIranians say the plan is the latest way to control their accessto the Web, which is already highly censored.

(Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati; editing by Jane Baird)

((yeganeh.torbati@thomsonreuters.com)(+971 50 698 8495)(ReutersMessaging: yeganeh.torbati.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: IRAN CYBER/