The Iranian oil ministry's computer network came under attack from hackers and a computer virus, prompting the Islamic Republic to disconnect the country's main oil export terminal from the Internet as a preventative measure, a semiofficial news agency reported on Monday.
Mehr said the Sunday cyberattack affected some data, but the ministry had backed it up. It said oil operations were otherwise unaffected.
But the Kharg Island oil terminal, the ministry headquarters, and other facilities were all taken offline, the agency quoted Hamdollah Mohammadnejad, deputy oil minister in charge of civil defense, as saying. Some 80 percent of Iran's daily 2.2 million barrels of crude export goes through the Kharg facility, located off its southern coast.
The Islamic Republic says that it is involved in a long-running technological war with the United States and Israel.
Iran periodically reports cyberattacks to its nuclear and industrial sectors, almost always saying that little damage was caused. In 2010, Iran reported that a nuclear plant had been targeted by the Stuxnet virus. It denied reports that uranium centrifuge operations had been disrupted, saying that damage was confined to nuclear plant personnel's laptops.
Iran has reported other cyberattacks since, including an infection in April 2011 dubbed "Stars" and a spy virus about which little is known but its name, "Doku."
Earlier this year, head of Iran's civil defense agency Gholam Reza Jalali said the energy sector of the country has been a main target of cyberattacks over the past two years.
Iran has recently announced a series of cyberdefense measures spearheaded by the Revolutionary Guards _ a unit which already runs every key military program in Iran and many industries.
In March, the Guard set up what it claims is a hack-proof communications network for its high-level commanders.
Ultimately, Iran says it wants to set up a completely indigenous Internet that is also aimed at checking a "cultural invasion" by enemies aimed at promoting dissent and undermining the ruling system.
Iran is at odds with Israel and the West over its controversial nuclear program. The U.S. and its allies accuse Tehran of wanting to develop weapons technology. Iran denies the claims, saying its program is for peaceful purposes.