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Latest cyberattack on Iran targets oil export facilities

Computer servers at the government oil ministry and the National Iranian Oil Co. are the apparent target of a cyberattack via a data-deleting virus, Iranian officials have acknowledged. Previous attacks struck at Iran's nuclear program.

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Gas flares from an oil production platform, as an Iranian flag is seen in the foreground, at the Soroush oil fields in the Persian Gulf, some 776 miles south of the capital Tehran, in this July 2005 file photo.

Raheb Homavandi/Reuters/File

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Iran's oil export facilities are the apparent target of computer malware, an attack that penetrated computer servers at both the government oil ministry and the National Iranian Oil Co.

The cyberattack – one of several Iran has endured over the past few years – comes as Iran and an international coalition of six nations, including the US, prepare for more talks next month over the extent of Iran's nuclear ambitions. To put pressure on Iran to cooperate with efforts to verify the scope of its nuclear program, the United States has been discouraging the international community from buying Iranian oil.

Initial reports from Iran are that a computer virus, dubbed "Viper," wiped data from the targeted servers.

Alireza Nikzad, a spokesman for Iran's oil ministry, told the Fars news agency, which has ties to the government, that Sunday's attack was a "virus" that "attempted to delete data on oil ministry servers." Another Iranian news agency cited Mr. Nikzad as identifying the virus as Viper.

"This cyberattack has not damaged the main data of the oil ministry and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) since the general servers are separate from the main servers; even their cables are not linked to each other and are not linked to Internet service," Nikzad said in the reports. "We have a backup from all our main or secondary data, and there is no problem in this regard."

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