Tech & Communications

RasGas hit with crippling virus

by  — 30 August 2012

RasGas, Qatar's second largest producer of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) was hit by an unknown virus on Monday the 27th August, that has crippled office systems and taken the company website offline.

According to the report a RasGas spokesperson said the attack has had “no impact whatsoever on operations in Ras Laffan Industrial City and there are no issues with cargo deliveries.” He went on to say that they are working with ICT Qatar, the supreme council of information technology in Qatar to fix the problem. Earlier this month Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer was also attacked by malware that erased the hard-drives of 30,000 computers. According to Arabian Oil & Gas, oil production was not affected, thanks to “advanced protection systems.”

It is not yet clear the extent to which RasGas systems were affected. However sensitive company information could have been compromised. After the Saudi Aramco breach, the ‘hackivists’ posted the e-mail address and password of the CEO, Khalid A. Al Falih and passwords for their internet service routers. Saudi Aramco oil production was not affected after their breach, with a spokesperson stating “the company employs a series of precautionary procedures and multiple redundant systems within its advanced and complex system that are used to protect its operational and database systems.” However other information like the “company’s estimates of its production rates, shipments, production capacity and reserves are all confidential,” and could be compromised after both hacks. To read more on cyber crime in the Gulf, here is an opinion piece from our June issue.

In the past few years there have been several high profile cyber attacks, according to Reuters “in April, a virus targeted the Iranian oil ministry and national oil company networks, forcing Iran to disconnect the control systems of oil facilities including Kharg Island, which handles most of the country’s crude exports.” Increasingly complex attack, sometimes backed by governments like was suspected in the case of the attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment plant have exposed, previously assumed to be secure critical systems.

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