Hackers target Iran's atomic energy agency, breach subsidiary network

The group said it leaked 50 gigabytes of internal emails, contracts and construction plans related to Iran’s Russian-backed nuclear power plant in Bushehr and shared the files on its Telegram channel, although it was unclear whether it included classified material

Associated PressUpdated: Sunday, October 23, 2022, 11:30 PM IST
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Iran’s atomic energy agency alleged on Sunday that hackers acting on behalf of an unidentified foreign country broke into a subsidiary’s network and had free access to its email system.

An anonymous hacking group claimed responsibility for the attack on Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, demanding Tehran release political prisoners arrested in the recent nationwide protests.

The group said it leaked 50 gigabytes of internal emails, contracts and construction plans related to Iran’s Russian-backed nuclear power plant in Bushehr and shared the files on its Telegram channel. It was unclear whether the breached system contained classified material.

Iran anti-hijab protests continue

The hack comes as Iran continues to face nationwide unrest first sparked by the Septeber 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman in police custody for allegedly not adhering to the country’s strict Islamic dress code.

On Sunday, Iran’s leading teachers’ association reported that sit-ins canceled classes at multiple schools across the country in protest over the government’s crackdown on student protesters.

The protests first focused on Iran’s state-mandated hijab, or headscarf, for women but transformed into one of the most serious challenges to the country’s ruling clerics.

Protesters have clashed with police and even called for the downfall of the Islamic Republic itself. Security forces have fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse demonstrations, killing over 200 people, according to estimates by rights groups.

'Foreign country' behind attack

Iran’s civil nuclear arm said hackers breached the email system used by a company operating the country’s sole nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

The agency blamed a “foreign country” for the attack, without elaborating. Iran has previously accused the United States and Israel for cyberattacks that have impaired the country’s infrastructure.

“These illegal efforts out of desperation are aimed at attracting public attention,” the organization said.

An anonymous hacking group, calling itself “Black Reward,” published on Telegram what appeared to be files of contracts, construction plans and details about equipment at the Bushehr plant, which went online in 2011 with help from Russia.

“Unlike Westerners, we do not flirt with criminal mullahs,” the group wrote.

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