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Oil giant Saudi Aramco hit with virus

17 Aug 2012
malware virus security

The world's largest crude oil exporter has become the latest victim of a cyber attack, allegedly as a warning to officials in the country.

Saudi Aramco said in a statement on its Facebook page that it has shut down outside access to its computer network in a pre-emptive measure following a virus attack.

"The disruption was suspected to be the result of a virus that had infected personal workstations without affecting the primary components of the network," Aramco said in its statement.

"Saudi Aramco confirmed the integrity of all of its electronic network that manages its core business and that the interruption has had no impact whatsoever on any of the company's production operations."

According to a post on the website, the Arab Youth Group has taken responsibility for the attack. The group is calling the attack a message to Saudi officials.

"Arab nations beware. The Arab Youth Group, in support of Arab dignity and for a warning to Al-Saud traitors, has performed [the] 'Sahabah-al-Nabi' operation," the group said in its post.

The Arab Youth Group doesn't offer any proof that it is behind the attacks.

In its Pastebin post, the group also reported to have taken down the Stock Exchange of Saudi Arabia. However, at the time of writing the Stock Exchange has yet to report any such attack. 

Saudi Aramco has not said when it expects computer networks to be back at full capacity, but assures that systems will be back online soon.

Multiple redundant systems and precautionary measures were able to prevent any disruption in oil production. Operational and database systems were reportedly untouched by the virus attack.

This past year has seen many viruses hit infrastructure and government operations in the Middle East.

The Flame virus hit Iranian IT systems last May. The sophisticated virus was reportedly used as a state-sponsored espionage tool. Reports state that the virus was co-authored by US and Israeli officials.

Kaspersky Labs also recently discovered a similar virus in the Middle East known as the Gauss virus. The virus reportedly shared a similar code base to Flame and attacked Middle Eastern online banking and social networking users.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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