Iran Tried To Sabotage Israel's Water Supply In Major Cyberattack: US Officials

A new Washington Post report alleges Iran attempted to hack into Israel's water supply systems in order to sabotage crucial aspects behind the nation's water infrastructure

While allegations of an uptick in Iranian cyber-espionage are nothing new, coming on the heels of recent reports of Iranian state actors attempting to steal sensitive COVID-19 health data from various international research institutions, if confirmed such a brazen attempt to cripple Israel's essential infrastructure would constitute truly new and more aggressive territory.

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However, like with all Iran reporting which comes out of the deeply national security state establishment friendly WaPo, it should be emphasized that the entirety of sourcing for the story remains the usual 'anonymous officials'.

Reports the Post: "Iran is being linked to an attempted cyberattack last month that authorities believe was aimed at disrupting water supplies in at least two locations in Israel as that country was seeking to contain a covid-19 outbreak, according to foreign intelligence officials familiar with the matter."

The attempted cyber infiltration was reported as occurring on April 24 and 25, but was quickly deterred. It was described by "a senior Trump administration official" privy to the incident as seeking to unleash a "deeply destabilizing" event impacting the entire nation and residents' access to water.

Specifically, according to the report:

The hackers sought to cripple computers that control water flow and wastewater treatment for a pair of rural districts in Israel, according to two officials of a foreign government that monitored the attack in real time.

Investigators found that the hackers routed their attempted attack through computer servers in the United States and Europe - a common tactic used by adversaries of the West.

The Eshkol water filtration plant in northern Israel, operated by Israel's national water company. Image via Times of Israel.

Further it came amidst a continued nationwide Israeli lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19. Officials believe the attempted espionage was timed to hit critical infrastructure at a moment Israel is in a rare moment of vulnerability

"The two affected districts serve a variety of residential, medical and commercial customers, providing fresh water as well as wastewater removal and treatment. At the time, much of the population was under lockdown because of the pandemic," WaPo continues to detail.

"The attack was initially detected by employees of the Israel Water Authority, who alerted Israel's cybersecurity agency. Israeli government officials said the attack was quickly detected and defeated, causing no damage or harm to water supplies. Employees were instructed to change operational system passwords, the officials said," the report adds.

However, it's as yet unclear what if any evidence the Israelis have which proves Tehran or Iranian intelligence services were behind it. In many cases concerning the recent reported spate of Iranian cyber-attacks against foreign countries and outside entities, it's likely that private individuals or groups may be operating on their own accord.

But when it comes to all things Iranian, Washington and Tel Aviv will be quick to point straight to the Islamic Republic and government actors.