Saudi Aramco says cyber attack targeted oil, gas flow
10 December 2012
Saudi Aramco said on Sunday a cyber attack in August that damaged some 30,000 computers was aimed at stopping the Saudi Arabian national oil company’s oil and gas production.
The attack on Saudi Aramco (the biggest Opec exporter, supplying a tenth of the world's oil) failed to disrupt production, but was one of the most destructive cyber strikes conducted against a single business.
"The main target in this attack was to stop the flow of oil and gas to local and international markets and thank God they were not able to achieve their goals," Reuters quoted Saudi Aramco vice president for corporate planning, Abdullah al-Saadan, as saying on al-Ekhbariya television. It was the firm's first comments on the apparent aim of the attack.
Saudi Aramco and the Saudi Interior Ministry are conducting an investigation into the cyber strike. Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki said the attackers were an organised group operating from different countries across four continents.
The attack used a computer virus known as ‘Shamoon’ which infected workstations on 15 August, resulting in the company shutting down its main internal network for more than a week.
Turki said the investigation had not shown any involvement of Saudi Aramco employees, although he could not give more details as the investigation was not yet complete.
Saudi Arabia's economy is heavily dependent on oil, with export revenues from oil accounting for 80% to 90% of total Saudi revenues and above 40% of the country's gross domestic product, according to US data.
Shamoon spread through the company's network and wiped computers' hard drives clean. Saudi Aramco said damage was limited to office computers and did not affect systems software that could have hurt technical operations.
Hackers from a group called ‘Cutting Sword of Justice’ claimed responsibility for the attack, stating their motives were political and that the virus gave them access to documents from Saudi Aramco's computers, which they threatened to release. However, no documents have been published as yet.
In a posting on an online bulletin board the day the files were wiped, the group blamed Saudi Arabia for "crimes and atrocities" in several countries, including Syria and Bahrain.
Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain last year to back the Gulf state's rulers, fellow Sunni Muslims, against Shi'ite-led protesters. Riyadh is also sympathetic to mainly Sunni rebels in Syria while Iran backs the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite religion is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
Unusual to find a muslim (as I assume Saudi Aramco vice president for corporate planning, Abdullah al-Saadan is) praising God! :-)