Computer hackers have moved beyond the U.S. military to cyber attack another enemy: Big Oil.

Recently, hackers hit Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil producer, and disabled 30,000 of its workstations. A group of "hacktivists" calling themselves Cutting Sword of Justice released a statement on an online bulletin board the day the viral attack was released, taking credit for it.

"The disruption was suspected to be the result of a virus that had infected personnel workstations without affecting the primary components of the network," the Saudi Arabia-based company stated in a letter to customers about the cyber attack that was launched August 15. Later in the month, Saudi Aramco announced it had restored full network access, but only after the malware attack, called "Shamoon," reached 75 percent of its workstations.

Cutting Sword of Justice said in its online letter that plan was simply to take out 30,000 computers at Saudi Aramco. Since the oil producer is the main source of income for the Saudi government, the hackers say, it should be blamed for "crimes and atrocities" in several countries. The Cutting Sword of Justice had not been heard of before this cyber attack, and security experts have no information on the group.

They may get away with it. It appears that cutting Sword of Justice didn't do much more than cause headaches at Saudi Aramco, this time, but who knows when a similar tack affects the oil supply.


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  • 19 Comments
      Greg
      • 2 Years Ago
      Shouldn't the headline read: "Hackers bring down Saudi Aramco's computers"? I'm not sure what this has to do with "Big Oil" outside of Saudi Aramco (or who even is "Big Oil").
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Greg
        'Big Oil' is an ironic name at this point. The traditional 'Big Oil' (the IOCs) are small compared the NOCs like Saudi-Aramco at this point.
      Roy_H
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Cutting Sword of Justice is no better than the lynch mobs of yesteryear, taking justice into their own hands and causing harm without full knowledge of who or how far the harm spreads. This will not change anything, except maybe drive the price of oil up another 1/100 %. Solve the problem by buying electric cars, not by annoying people who are simply selling us what we ask them to.
        Chris M
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Roy_H
        They're criminals that like to create trouble, they're just using a shallow excuse to try to justify their crimes. Much like rioters using some minor trouble as an excuse to create major troubles. Besides, viruses have a nasty tendency of getting out of hand and getting into systems their creators didn't intend them to get into.
      olejarc
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well someone has to step up to the criminals of our justice,,,don't see our congress doing one thing to better our nation,,,by for and of the people has been replaced by greed of greed,,,,,,,,time to see action for the people and not the businesses that get all the tax breaks,,,steal our treasury,, selll our land off,,ect ect,,
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @olejarc
        @ olejarc When ever I hear raucous demands of radical action on behalf of the 'People', I discover only a small group of misogynists, representing no one but themselves, and thoroughly despised by the 'People' , they claim to represent !
      goodoldgorr
      • 2 Years Ago
      We see often these drilling platforms in the middle of the ocean but do someone know where the oil go after they pump it.
        Ryan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        It either gets sent via underwater pipeline to the shore, or a big boat comes out to fill up with the oil.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Proud of you people. I figured I would read comments and everyone would be like, 'eff yea, down with big oil!' Always cool when something surprises me. Great job! :). And sorry for stereotyping... :(
        Giza Plateau
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        Why shouldn't big oil be destroyed?
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Giza Plateau
          Big Natural Gas is a LOT closer to replacing Big Oil than Big Coal. Oil is a mobile fuel, Coal is stationary, NG is both.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Giza Plateau
          @ Giza Plateau " Why shouldn't big oil be destroyed?" The answer comes in two parts; 1) Oil depletion is slowly destroying the fuel oil industry 2) Currently, oil is the most important element of the industrialized world's economy. Oil created the twentieth century, and still dominates the first half of the twenty-first century. Oil depletion, competition from non-fuel oil products, and advancing technology, will ensure that in the second half of this century, oil as a transport fuel, will become extinct without the need to 'destroy' anything ! The Oil industry produces, more than 3500 products, everything from medicine to fertilizer. Nearly every aspect of modern life depends on the Oil industry. Destroy Big Oil, means you destroy modern civilization !
          Dave
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Giza Plateau
          Because it will only be replaced with "Big Coal" I'd prefer we wait a few decades and replace it with "Big Nuclear" myself
        Chris M
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        As much as I dislike "big oil", I consider virus writers and other "hacktivists" to be far worse. The oil companies may be greedy, polluting, and a bit conniving, but they're not actually malicious, they don't deliberately set out to harm. Virus writers and hacktivists are malicious trouble-makers, deliberately trying to harm.
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        I have no problem with big oil being destroyed! Really! But through the normal market way. Something better, cheaper, easier (and cleaner)... Not through vandals or criminal activity. Bring on the electrics, the LPG, the solar...whichever works! :)
      SpeedyRacer
      • 2 Years Ago
      I agree that the Iranians have the strongest motive, however they may not have sufficient ability. I suspect Russia because they are allied with Iran and Assad, and against US interests. Also because Putin is still a KGB-SOB without any ethics or conscience. Reset, my shiny metal ... Get a clue.
      Mart
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Since the oil producer is the main source of income for the Saudi government, the hackers say, it should be blamed for "crimes and atrocities" in several countries. The Cutting Sword of Justice had not been heard of before this cyber attack, and security experts have no information on the group." I would suspect Iranian cyber warfare in retaliation for Saudi support of the FSA.
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mart
        Well, the US and/or Israel did hand Iran the Sustex Virus on a platter for them to re-engineer for their own uses when it was used to infect Iran's computer systems, so it is a very real technical possibility. But it is a huge leap to start pointing fingers like that at this point. I'm also not so sure that the Saudi's are on the top of the list of targets for Iran to cyber-attack. We'll see.
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      This must be "Iranian" hackers, as Saudi policy has been pro-isreal really, and pro a stable but high price for oil at $100 a barrel.
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