Iran’s second-largest airliner suffered a cyberattack that disrupted access to Mahan Air, according to reports on Sunday.
Mahan Air’s website displayed an error message stating that the site could not be reached. The carrier said in a statement that it had “foiled” the attack and that its flight schedule had not been affected, adding that it had faced similar violations in the past.
Many Mahan Air customers across Iran received strange text messages on Sunday. A group calling themselves Hoosyarane-Vatan, or Homeland Watchers, claimed in mass texts to have carried out the attack, citing the airline’s cooperation with the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guards. The self-proclaimed hacking group has provided no evidence.
According to the Mehr News Agency, some of Mahan’s clients had received text messages saying: “Cyber ââattack on Mahan for complicity in crimes committed by the Terrorist Guard Corps” – a reference to the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Mahan Air is Iran’s main private airline and second after the national carrier Iran Air.
It has been on the blacklist of Iranian companies targeted by US sanctions since 2011.
In addition to a domestic network, it also serves destinations in Europe and Asia.
Iran last month accused Israel and the United States of a cyberattack on its gasoline distribution system that wreaked havoc on gasoline pumps across the country.
Israel’s internet infrastructure has meanwhile been hit by cyber attacks by hacking group Black Shadow, including against Israel’s largest LGBTQ dating site and an insurance company.
The hacking group did not recognize any connection to Iran, but the attacks are widely seen as part of a multi-year covert war between Israel and Iran, including physical attacks on ships and cyber – offensive attacks online.
Mahan Air flies from Tehran to a few dozen destinations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The US Treasury Department, which monitors compliance with sanctions, blacklisted the airline in 2011 for allegedly “providing financial, material and technological support” to the elite Revolutionary Guard Quds force, responsible campaigns of the Islamic Republic abroad. The Treasury accused Mahan Air of transporting weapons, goods and personnel to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
Major cyber attacks have hit various Iranian systems in recent months, including one in October crippling gas stations across the country, leaving angry motorists stranded in long queues unable to use their government-issued cards to buy subsidized fuel. Without naming any particular country, President Ebrahim Raisi blamed the hacking on anti-Iranian forces seeking to create disorder and disruption.
Another attack targeted the rail system, causing mass confusion with dozens of delayed and canceled trains across Iran.