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Aramco says hacking attack that affected 30,000 computers intends to stop oil production

The hacking attack that crippled about 30,000 computers in Saudi Arabia’s oil firm, Aramco, was aimed at stopping oil production, said the company. The targeted computers were damaged last August after a virus deleted the contents in the hard drives of each unit. Aramco is the country’s largest oil production facility and is a significant exporter in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Aramco provides about 10 percent of the world’s oil. The attack failed to stop production, though it was considered the most destructive cyber attack against one single company so far.

Aramco’s vice president for corporate planning, Abdullah al-Saadan, said: “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.”

The statement was the first comment of the company about the apparent aim of the hacking attack.

Hacker group called Cutting Sword of Justice claimed responsibility for the attack. They said that the main reason for the attack were political in nature, and that the attack gave them access to information from Aramco. They are threatening to release the documents although so far, nothing has been published yet.

The country’s Interior Ministry and Aramco are still investigating the attack. Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki, the interior ministry spokesmand said that the attackers are based from countries on four continents.

Shamoon, the name of the virus used, infected workstations of Aramco on August 15. the company shut down its main terminal following the detection of the attack for more than a week. General Turki said that no Aramco employees are involved in the attack. He commented that he could not disclose many details as the investigation is still on going.

The virus spread in Aramco’s network, wiping out hard drives along the way. The damage was limited to workstations in offices and did not affect systems software that might disrupt technical operations.

A posting on the website of Cutting Sword of Justice a day before the attack accused Saudi Arabia of “crimes and atrocities” in countries that include Bahrain and Syria.

Troops from Saudi Arabia were sent to Bahrain last year to protect the rulers of the country, fellow Sunni Muslims, against Shiite-led protests. Saudi Arabia also supports the rebels fighting al-Assad’s government in Syria.

source: nytimes

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