Saudi Arab

Saudi government bodies hit by computer virus attack: Report

Saudi government agencies and installations, including the country’s transport sector, have recently been hit by a computer virus attack, a government institution says.

The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted the National Cyber Security Center, a division of the Saudi Interior Ministry, as saying on Thursday that the attack took place in mid-November, without elaborating on the identity of the hackers or the scale of the damage caused.

The virus was attempting to disrupt servers and plant malicious software in the kingdom’s computer systems, the center was cited as saying.

The attack, which appeared to originate from abroad, was one of “several ongoing cyber attacks targeting government authorities,” it added.

On Wednesday, several US security companies said that a version of Shamoon computer virus was used two weeks ago to cripple computers in Saudi Arabia.

The virus affected tens of thousands of computers belonging to energy firms in the Middle East in 2012, including the Saudi Aramco oil company and the Qatari RasGas Co Ltd.

“Why Shamoon has suddenly returned again after four years is unknown,” said the security response team of Symantec Corp., adding, “However, with its highly destructive payload, it is clear that the attackers want their targets to sit up and take notice.”

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