Saudi Aramco confirms data breach following demand for $50m cyber ransom

Data leak
(Image credit: Shutterstock/dalebor)
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Saudi Aramco has admitted to indirectly leaking sizable amounts of data pilfered from one of its third-party contractors in a cyberattack, which surprisingly doesn’t appear to involve the use of malware (opens in new tab) like ransomware (opens in new tab).

In an emailed statement to the Financial Times, the world’s largest oil producer confirmed a breach had occured earlier this week (opens in new tab), but added the incident did not originate on its computers, and has had no impact on their operations. 

The statement comes after cybersecurity (opens in new tab) experts noticed a dark web post claiming to offer one terabyte of Saudi Aramco data. The poster reportedly claimed to possess information on the location of oil refineries, as well as payroll files and confidential client and employee data.

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Interestingly, while it is currently unclear who was behind the leak, according to reports, the attack on the unidentified contractor doesn’t appear to be part of a typical ransomware campaign. 

Smash and grab

Experts noted that the seller who posted the exfiltrated data on the dark web did not mention affiliation with any ransomware operator, even as they demanded $50 million in cryptocurrency (opens in new tab) to delete the data.

Security experts have foretold of an increase in cyberattacks on critical utilities and infrastructure following the successful campaign against the US-based Colonial Pipeline (opens in new tab), prompting the country to spend billions (opens in new tab) to revitalize its security initiatives.

It isn’t clear whether Saudi Aramco or its contractor heeded the extortion demands, but since there’s no indication of any data being encrypted in the attack, the primary concern would have been to keep the information away from its competitors.

Via Financial Times (opens in new tab)

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.