Cyberattack on Saudi Oil Firm Disquiets U.S. – NYTimes.com

Another skirmish in a conflict that looks like a full-fledged cyberwar on the horizon:

United States intelligence officials say the attack’s real perpetrator was Iran, although they offered no specific evidence to support that claim. But the secretary of defense, Leon E. Panetta, in a recent speech warning of the dangers of computer attacks, cited the Aramco sabotage as “a significant escalation of the cyber threat.” In the Aramco case, hackers who called themselves the “Cutting Sword of Justice” and claimed to be activists upset about Saudi policies in the Middle East took responsibility….

Immediately after the attack, Aramco was forced to shut down the company’s internal corporate network, disabling employees’ e-mail and Internet access, to stop the virus from spreading.

via Cyberattack on Saudi Oil Firm Disquiets U.S. – NYTimes.com.

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12 thoughts on “Cyberattack on Saudi Oil Firm Disquiets U.S. – NYTimes.com

  1. SS Mughal says:

    This incident goes to show that cyber terrorism is a very real threat. So many corporations rely on vast networks of servers and computers that hold inordinate amounts of private company data in order to function. When these networks are compromised, the entire company’s operations are at stake. Regardless of whether the attack was carried out by Iran or a fringe group, it’s still a scary incident and it underscores the need for international leaders to consider the affects of cyber terrorism and how to protect against cyber attacks. Bombs and guns may cause devastation, but if major suppliers of food, oil, or other staple products aren’t able to distribute their products because of ruined cyber infrastructure, the outcome could be very bad as well.

    Here’s a link to a video discussing the growing threat of cyber terrorism: http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/1922504219001/the-growing-threat-of-cyber-warfare/

  2. emilylheath says:

    I feel like this attack makes it safe to say that cyber attack will be the warfare of the future. Increasingly, the internet is becoming the center of the developed world; threats to this center means threats to our society and way of life. Besides simply stealing information, the use of the internet as a way to share terrorist information is also scary. Internet cafes, mobile devices, and wi-fi have made getting accessing information available pretty much anywhere. Once an attack has taken place, there’s no stopping the spread of stolen information from going viral. The real question then is what the government’s place is and what computer systems are actually safe. Hackers are like viruses, they are continually mutating and adapting to firewalls and other blockades in place. I believe that hackers pose a serious threat now and in the future. No matter their rationale for retrieving information, their desire and ability to continue hacking into systems will make them valuable assets and regulations and laws will not be enough to stop them.

    It seems like only a matter of time before a cyber attack occurs that causes serious damage. Imagine if a hacker was able to get into the computer system of a less-advanced nation and gain access to their nuclear weapons. The results could be catastrophic. The main problem with the internet is that there is no good way to regulate it or block people off. Preventing infiltration into governmental and company systems in the United States must be a top priority of US officials. A failure to prepare for cyber attack could result in a devastating security breach and loss or leak of valuable information to our enemies, compromising our national security.

    Here are a couple of articles on how cyber attacks could be used as weapons of mass destruction and on the increase of cyber attacks in the USA:

    http://www.opposingviews.com/i/money/personal-finance/bankruptcy/how-cyber-attacks-could-be-weapons-mass-destruction

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/27/us/cyberattacks-are-up-national-security-chief-says.html?_r=0

  3. Dylan Bates says:

    It seems to me that computer security is going to be a hot job market in the years to come, if it isn’t already. As information becomes a more powerful tool in both businesses and governments, methods to attack information become more powerful weapons. It worries me that the incident described in the article was a “wake up call” for the United States officials. Defending ourselves against cyber attacks should be a top priority for the nation’s national security agenda.
    This is what Obama is doing to counter cyber attacks.
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/cybersecurity/comprehensive-national-cybersecurity-initiative

  4. claytonconley says:

    Cyber terrorism and cyber security are interesting topics and actually are the topics for our TA group. I believe in these next few years we will see more cyber attacks and more frequently. The most unnerving matter of cyber terrorism is that attacks can be implemented from anywhere in the world. Cyber security is an international matter and the UN has created IMPACT to protect 144 member states from cyber threats. In the past there have been similar cyber attacks such as Stuxnet, targeting industrial computer functions of Siemen computers used in centrifuges for purifying uranium. This virus infected computers mainly in Iran and Indonesia.
    http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/computer_malware/stuxnet/index.html?8qa

  5. Sara Gomez says:

    The relationships between Iran and Saudi Arabia have not always been the best. Both countries disagree in a number of issues and both consider each other a threat. The attack to the Saudi Arabia’s oil company will not ameliorate the situation. Interestingly enough, Iran and Saudi Arabia had a meeting before in which Syria acted as an intermediary in order to create a space for both countries to solve their disagreements. However, this attack has shown that there are many things that still need to be resolved and Iran is not completely sincere on what they have agreed before. Saudi Arabia is now going to defend what it is important for them, and since oil is one of the things that keeps the monarchy alive the conflicts between both countries will not get better any soon.

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article3765511.ece

  6. logankeicher says:

    My first thought was that, if the US really was responsible for the cyberattack on Iran, why would they put an image of a US flag on all the computers they infected? That doesnt make sense. Sounds more like someone trying to set up the US, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the US was involved in some way. Cyberterrorism is certainly the next big threat to our world. The NSA is currently building a massive facility in Utah dedicated to combating cyber terrorism. I don’t really understand all the implications of cyber warfare, but I know that it will certainly be a major factor in our defense and attack strategies.
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0211.green.html

  7. Matthew Merrill says:

    One of the most interesting arguments I heard during our midterm was that cyber attacks could happen, not that they would happen. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the Aramco attack, the attack on Capital One and BB&T, and the attack in September on the largest banks in America, we know that cyber-terrorism is real and is increasing in frequency and severity. An interesting point is that the Aramco virus wiped the files from the computers and made them unusable, rather than staying below the radar and transmitting information. This shows that this attack was presumably a show of power by state actors and not cyber thieves searching for confidential/financial information.

    This article describes the attack on US banks
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/01/business/cyberattacks-on-6-american-banks-frustrate-customers.html

  8. mitchmender says:

    I don’t think anyone can deny the importance that the internet and the cyber world plays into today’s society. I found this article most interesting because during our mock session many delegates argued that cyber terrorism was not a threat and that we did not need to focus on it but here is evidence that it is real and that it is pertinent.

    One of the links led to a blog where the author presented the idea that it might be worthwhile to keep a secure amount of cash in case cyber terrorism hit the banks again and this time in a much more serious way. The thought of losing all your money because a guy sitting in his grandmothers basement is a scary one that needs to be addressed and actions need to be taken to protect the cyber structures that exist.

    http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/keeping-cash-on-hand-just-in-case/?ref=global

  9. cheholmes5 says:

    I agree with Mitch. This was interesting to see right after the argument was made that cyber terrorism really is no big deal. Here is an example of terrorism that can cripple one of the biggest oil suppliers and therefore many economies because of one man sending a virus. This is a big deal, especially when we know that our world is run on computers. The measure that must be taken is to keep hard copies of files no matter how much that costs the firms or governments. The following is a link to a review of a book that was published “America the Vulnerable” by Joel Brenner, a former National Counterintelligence Executive for the United States. The book talks about dangers of cyber terrorism and how easy it is to be hacked.
    https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/joel-brenner/america-vulnerable/

  10. It is interesting to note that not much educations needs to go into the business of hacking. One of our family friends was a big time hacker turned good. After getting caught after a billion dollar project involving one of the world largest banks, he got a deal with the government to help catch other hackers. He was that good and he was self taught.
    This can be a scary realization. We have seen the damage that one virus can do to the economy and government of a country. To think that anyone can become a hacker, even a boy that ran away from home and 16 can learn to steal billions from a bank, can be worrisome. One doesn’t have to search far for information to learn how to become a hacker. All you have to do is just check online. http://www.wikihow.com/Hack
    To me this is a huge threat to nation security. A threat that cannot be easily resolved.

  11. People are very much aware of general cybersecurity risks. But the extent to which cyber attacks could potentially paralyze an entire country is something that’s still flying under the radar. Mr. Panetta gave a speech earlier this month describing the threats posed by any developed nation (or even private groups) that have access to sophisticated technologies. He warned of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor.” In a world racked with threats from terrorist and militant groups, cybersecurity needs to play a larger part in discussions of national security. The public may be mostly concerned with threats posed by Iran or China, but experts note that virtually all developed countries have the capability of launching large-scale cyber attacks (http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Latest-News-Wires/2012/1025/Cybersecurity-chief-Attacks-on-US-banks-tough-to-pin-down). Al-Qaeda doesn’t necessarily need to make extravagant plans to bomb U.S. buildings; all it has to do is train its recruits in cyberwarfare, and they can attack anyone from anywhere. This is an issue that Congress is going to have to come to terms with before too long.

  12. I find Iran to be a very interesting country. They are so incapable of competing with other developed countries on many different levels. It seems that if they are behind these attacks that they are trying to gain an advantage in at least one area and gain some respect in the international community. (An interesting foreign policy.) They would love to have a nuclear weapon, but they continue to face set-backs, in the meantime, cyber-warfare seems to be their new front. According to the Huffington Post, Iran recently invested over a billion dollars in their cyber-warfare program. It will be interesting to see how the international community responds to these new threats and whether or not America will be as opposed to Iran’s cyber-warfare capabilities as they have been to their nuclear capabilities.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/iran-cyber-attack-threat_n_2011014.html

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