Industry News

Saudi Aramco Back on Track after Malware Attack; ‘Primary Systems’ Safe at All Times

Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, said it restored to normal operation status its 30,000 stations affected “by a malicious virus that originated from external sources”, according to a press release on the company’s website. It said “primary systems” were free from harm at all times because “they function on isolated systems.”

The Aug. 15 incident prompted the company to “isolate all its electronic systems from outside access as an early precautionary measure […] following a sudden disruption that affected some of the sectors of its electronic network”, according to a statement posted on the Aramco Facebook Page at the time.

Two hacker groups claimed responsibility for this attack. The Arab Youth Group dubbed it operation “Sahabah-al-Nabi” and put it down to King Al-Saud’s having  become “the agent of the United States and Israel” and to “the Saudi rulers betray[ing] the Arab world publicly”. “Your childsTargeted Administrable structures and substructures of Aramco and Also the Stock Exchange of Saudi Arabia.This action has been done in order to warn the Saudi rulers,” read the Arab Youth Group’s Pastebin post released the day of the attack.

The Cutting Sword of Justice, the other underground group, offered approximately the same justification for the attack, namely that “an action was performed against Aramco company, as the largest financial source for Al-Saud regime.”

The recent discovery of a “kill timer” component in Shamoon, the latest cyber-sabotage tool to have been identified, led to speculation about this being the weapon in the Aramco attack, as reported by computerworld.com.

“Saudi Aramco is not the only company that became a target for such attempts, and this was not the first nor will it be the last illegal attempt to intrude into our systems, and we will ensure that we will further reinforce our systems with all available means to protect against a recurrence of this type of cyber-attack,” said Saudi Aramco CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih.

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Ioana Jelea

Ioana Jelea has a disturbing (according to friendly reports) penchant for the dirty tricks of online socialization and for the pathologically mesmerizing news trivia. From gory, though sometimes fake, death reports to nip slips and other such blush-inducing accidents, her repertoire is an ever-expanding manifesto against any Victorian-like frame of thought that puts a strain on online creativity. She would like to keep things simple, but she never does.