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Iran’s top private airline says hit by cyberattack

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Nov 22, 2021 - 07:16 AM

TEHRAN, Iran (AA) – Iran’s biggest privately-owned airline, Mahan Air, on Sunday claimed to have thwarted a cyberattack targeting its “internal systems”.

In a statement, the company said its cyber security team “acted intelligently and in a timely manner” to repel the attack and all international and domestic flights were running on schedule.

The attack reported on Sunday morning was claimed by a little-known local hacking group calling itself “Hooshyarane Vatan” (Vigilant of the Nation).

The hackers infiltrated the airline company’s internal systems and sent out warning messages to thousands of Mahan Air customers, Anadolu Agency learnt.

In a statement posted on its Twitter page, the group claimed to have obtained “sensitive information” about the airline and its close association with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which it said will be disclosed soon.

The group accused the IRGC of “shipping weapons on a civilian aircraft”, and of “stealing resources” of Ahvaz, the provincial capital of Arab-majority province of Khuzestan, where the group is purportedly based.

There has been no reaction either from the government or the IRGC so far.

The airline spokesman, Amirhossein Zolanvari, told state broadcaster that some information has been obtained by the hacking group, but he said the information was not of sensitive nature.

Mahan Air began operations in 1992 as Iran’s first privately-owned airline and currently operates domestic services as well as international flights to South Asia, Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe.

The carrier has had its share of controversies as well, after being put on a sanctions list by the US in 2011 for allegedly “providing financial, material, or technological support for or to the IRGC-QF”, the foreign arm of the IRGC known as Quds Force.

More recently, in August 2020, the US imposed sanctions on two UAE-based firms, accusing them of providing material support to the Iranian airline.

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