SAUDI ARAMCO DATA BREACH

 

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil production company and one of the largest by revenue, is being held hostage by hackers. Last week, Saudi Aramco, officially known as the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, suffered a breach when some of its data were leaked by an unnamed contractor. Aramco, along with many other major players in the oil and gas industry, have recently come under criticism for not taking cybersecurity seriously and investing in robust anti-hacking software solutions.

 

A LIMITED AMOUNT OF DATA

 

In correspondence to the BBC¸ Saudi Aramco claimed that it

 

” …recently became aware of the indirect release of a limited amount of company data which was held by third-party contractors.”

 

As mentioned, the oil giant has not released the name of the contractor, nor any information if the contractor itself was breached. The company added that none of its networks had been compromised and that its cybersecurity was sound. A spokesperson said:

 

“We confirm that the release of data 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.”

 

HOW MUCH DATA AND HOW MUCH MONEY?

 

Associated Press (AP) reported that 1 TB (1,000 GB) of Saudi Aramco’s data has been held to ransom by a group of cyber-extortionists on the Dark Web. The anonymous hackers said that they will delete the data if Saudi Aramco pays a ransom of $50 million. This shouldn’t be a problem for the company which, in 2020, had a turnover of $230 billion and an operating profit of $102 billion. That said, Saudi Aramco announced that earnings in 2020 fell by nearly 45% compared to the previous year. Lockdowns and reduced global travel around the world in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic caused the demand for oil to plummet.

 

SAUDI ARAMCO AND SHAMOON

 

This is not the first time that Aramco has been hit by hackers. In 2012, the company’s computer network was struck by a malware virus known as Shamoon. The virus knocked out 30,000 workstation computers and the Saudi Aramco took its website offline as a precaution. This hack, however, was not an act of ransomware. In an online forum, a group called the Cutting Sword of Justice claimed responsibility. It said that the Saudi Government, the owners of Saudi Aramco, needed to be punished for the “crimes and atrocities” it had committed in several countries. Aramco is a key source of income for Saudia Arabia.