A Saudi Aramco engineer monitors the central control room at the Khurais oil field, 150 kilometers east-northeast of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo / AP

The Saudi state-owned oil giant admitted on Wednesday that the data disclosed by the company – files apparently used in a cyber extortion attempt involving a $ 50 million ($ 71.7 million) ransom demand – likely came from of one of its subcontractors.

The Saudi Arabian Oil Co., better known as Saudi Aramco, told The Associated Press that it “recently became aware of the indirect disclosure of a limited amount of corporate data held by sub- third party processors “.

The oil company did not specify which subcontractor was found affected or whether that subcontractor had been hacked or if the information had leaked in some other way.

“We confirm that the data disclosure was not due to a breach of our systems, has no impact on our operations and the company continues to maintain a robust cybersecurity posture,” said Aramco.

A page accessible by the AP on the darknet – part of the internet hosted in an encrypted network and accessible only through specialized tools providing anonymity – claimed that the extortionist held 1 terabyte of Aramco data. One terabyte is equivalent to 1000 gigabytes.

The page offered Aramco the ability to wipe the data for US $ 50 million in cryptocurrency, while another timer counted down from US $ 5 million, presumably in an attempt to pressure the company. It is still unclear who is behind the ransom plot.

Aramco has already been the target of a cyber attack. In 2012, the kingdom’s oil giant was hit by the computer virus Shamoon, which wiped out hard drives and then displayed an image of a burning American flag on computer screens. The attack forced Aramco to shut down its network and destroy more than 30,000 computers.

US officials then blamed Iran for the attack, whose nuclear enrichment program had just been targeted by the Stuxnet virus, possibly an American and Israeli creation.

In 2017, another virus swept through the kingdom and disrupted the computers of Sadara, a joint venture between Aramco and Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co. Officials at the time warned that it could be another version of Shamoon.

Aramco’s sparkle which now trades publicly on the Riyadh Tadawul Stock Exchange stood at 34.90 Riyals per share, or US $ 9.30, after trading stopped last week for the Muslim holiday of the ‘Eid al-Adha. This puts the valuation of the company at around $ 1.8 trillion, making it one of the most valued companies in the world.

– AP

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This notice was published: 2021-07-21 21:00:00


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