In the past two months, cyberattacks in the Middle East have broadened in scope and complexity. Reportedly done in revenge over politics, regional hackers infiltrated computer systems in the Arabian oil and gas industry, and then allegedly attacked major U.S. financial institutions.
Among the newest victims were two major companies in the regional oil industry — Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, and Qatar-based RasGas. In mid-August, malicious code was planted in roughly 30,000 workstations belonging to Aramco, along with a company website and e-mail was disrupted. A few days after, RasGas suffered a similar attack.
Internet security experts chalked up the attacks to new malicious software called Shamoon, which spreads through shared hard drives, and seeks to permanently erase information. Different regional ‘hacktivists’ took responsibility for the attacks, claiming they were motivated by Syria‘s ongoing civil war, though the hydrocarbon companies did not confirm what the virus was, nor where it came from.