Saudi Aramco confirms data leak after reports of cyber ransom

The world’s most valuable oil producer said the files were leaked based on reports that hackers demanded a ransom of $50 million.

Saudi Aramco confirmed that some of the company’s files were leaked after hackers allegedly demanded a $50 million ransom from the world’s most valuable oil producer.

“Aramco recently became aware of the indirect release of a limited amount of company data that was held by third-party contractors,” the Middle Eastern oil major said in an email on Wednesday. “We confirm that the release of the data was not due to a breach of our systems, has no impact on our operations, and that the company maintains a strong cybersecurity posture.”

The Associated Press previously reported that an extortionist had 1 terabyte of Saudi Arabian Oil Company data, citing a web page accessed on the darknet. The AP said the state-owned driller was offered the opportunity to delete the data for $50 million in cryptocurrency.

The global energy industry has seen a boom in cyber attacks, with colonial pipelines becoming the most visible. The oil and gas industry, which owns wells, pipelines and refineries, has long lagged behind in safety spending, according to consultants.

In 2012, Saudi Arabia blamed unidentified people based out of the kingdom for a hack against the oil giant, aimed at disrupting production from the world’s largest crude exporter. The so-called “spear-phishing” attack destroyed more than 30,000 computers within hours. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry declined to identify the “several foreign countries” from which the attack occurred at the time.

The Middle East has previously been a magnet for some of the world’s most expensive hacks, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said in a 2016 report.

From power companies to electricity grid operators to pipeline operators, have warned that cyberattacks are becoming more and more prevalent. The largest US power grid operator, PJM Interconnection LLC, has warned regulators that it faces increasing attacks.


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