Oil giant Saudi Aramco recovers from computer virus

Powered by SC Magazine
 

Infected 30,000 computers.

Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil producer, has resumed operating its main internal computer networks after a virus infected about 30,000 of its workstations in mid-August, the company said on Sunday.

Immediately after the August 15 cyber attack, the company announced it had cut off its electronic systems off from the outside world to prevent further attacks.

On Sunday, Saudi Aramco said the workstations had now been cleansed of the virus and restored to service.

Oil exploration and production were not affected because they operate on isolated systems, it said.

"We would like to emphasise and assure our stakeholders, customers and partners that our core businesses of oil and gas exploration, production and distribution from the wellhead to the distribution network were unaffected and are functioning as reliably as ever," CEO Khalid al-Falih said in a statement.

However, one of Saudi Aramco's websites which was taken offline after the attack —www.aramco.com — remained down on Sunday. Emails sent by Reuters to people within the company continued to bounce back.

The company said the virus "originated from external sources," and that an investigation into the causes of the incident and those responsible were continuing. It did not elaborate.

Information technology experts have warned that cyber attacks on countries' energy infrastructure, whether conducted by hostile governments, militant groups or private "hacktivists" to make political points, could disrupt energy supplies.

Iran, the target of international economic sanctions on focused on its oil industry over its disputed nuclear program, has been hit by several cyber attacks in the last few years.

In April, a virus targeted the Iranian oil ministry and national oil company networks, forcing Iran to disconnect the control systems of oil facilities including Kharg Island, which handles most of the country's crude exports.

Iran has attributed some of the attacks to the United States, Israel and Britain.

Current and former US officials told Reuters this year that the United States built the complex Stuxnet computer worm to try to prevent Tehran from completing suspected nuclear weapons work.

Posting

An English-language posting on an online bulletin board on August 15, signed by a group called the "Cutting Sword of Justice," claimed the group had launched the attack to destroy 30,000 computers at Saudi Aramco.

It said the company was the main source of income for the Saudi government, which it blamed 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 Sunni Muslim rulers against Shi'ite-led protesters. Riyadh is also supporting Sunni rebels against the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Before this month's attack, the Cutting Sword of Justice was not widely known, and information security experts contacted by Reuters had no information on the group.

Rob Rachwald, director of security for US-based data security firm Imperva, said in a blog posting last week that if the Saudi Aramco attack was carried out by hacktivists, it could be a milestone in computer hacking.

"A group of hobbyists and hacktivists with several very strong-minded developers and hackers achieved results similar to what we have allegedly seen governments accomplish," Rachwald wrote.

Symantec, one of the world's largest internet security companies, said on the day after the Saudi Aramco attack that it had discovered a new virus that was targeting at least one organisation in the global energy sector, although it did not name that organisation.

"It is a destructive malware that corrupts files on a compromised computer and overwrites the MBR (Master Boot Record) in an effort to render a computer unusable," Symantec said in a blog posting about the virus, which it called W32.Disttrack.

"Threats with such destructive payloads are unusual and are not typical of targeted attacks."

Saudi Aramco's Al-Falih said in his statement on Sunday: "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."

(Additional reporting by Reem Shamseddine and Angus McDowall, editing by Andrew Torchia and Anna Willard; desking by Gary Crosse)


Oil giant Saudi Aramco recovers from computer virus
 
 
 
Top Stories
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
Negotiating with the cloud email megavendors
[Blog post] Lessons from Woolworths’ mammoth migration.
 
Qld govt to move up to 149k staff onto Office 365
Australia's largest deployment, outside of the universities.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  20%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  11%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1440

Vote