Oil giant Saudi Aramco recovers from cyber-attack

The world’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, has finally recovered from a hack on its systems having been struck by a malicious virus nearly two weeks ago.

All of Saudi Aramco’s internal services have now been restored, after an attack on the firm’s network affected around 30,000 workstations. Remote access was restricted by the organisation, which was also forced to take its website offline.

Aramco, which is owned by the ruling Saudi royal family, says oil production remained uninterrupted by the virus, thanks to its production plants operating on isolated control systems. The same is true for the company’s sales, exports, distribution operations, and finance and HR sections, meaning these divisions all remained intact over the 10 days of disturbance.

“We addressed the threat immediately, and our precautionary procedures, which have been in place to counter such threats, and our multiple protective systems, have helped to mitigate these deplorable cyber threats from spiralling,” said Khalid A. Al-Falih, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco.

The “deplorable cyber threats” allegedly came from hackers belonging to the Arab Youth Group, which warned of “more severe action” if “the rulers of Saudi Arabia continue to betray the nation,” in reference to the regime’s collusion with US and Israeli authorities.

Keen to appear unfazed by the attacks, Al-Fahlil claimed, “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.”

The Saudi Royals are not the only Middle East regime to encounter cyber-threats of late. The headline-drawing Flame and Gauss malware have targeted a host of countries including Iran and Lebanon, though these sophisticated “cyber-espionage toolkits” originated from fellow nation states, rather than independent hacking groups.

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