Saudi officials are blaming Iranian government for conducting a sophisticated malware attack on computer networks across Saudi Arabia over the past two weeks causing damages to Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, the country’s central bank.
The investigations are currently underway to discover further details about the intensity and origin of the attack. However, according to a statement issued by the central bank on Friday, the bank’s system wasn’t entirely breached because it has strong protection against cyber threats through continuous surveillance. Apart from the central bank, eight other governmental entities have been affected by this attack.
The report that was originally published in Bloomberg suggests that a malware called Shamoon was used to attack the computer networks. This computer-killing malware is a product of Iranian hackers. With this malware, the hackers can inflict great damages across various critical sectors of a country including the finance, aviation and transport sectors. Shamoon malware overwrites the computer’s master boot record, due to which the machine becomes non-functioning and thus, gets completely destroyed.
It must be noted that the same malware was utilized by malicious cyber-criminals in the attack on Saudi Aramco back in 2012 during which about 35,000 computer were destroyed within few hours. That particular incident was also linked to Iran by US officials.
However, the notion that Iran-sponsored hackers carried this recent attack on Saudi institutions is currently a suspicion not a conclusion and the responsibility of the attack can change when further details arrive. It is also noted that the number of damage receiving entities is likely to increase since the investigation is in the preliminary stage as of now.
The actual targets of the attackers were the Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Transportation. The Transportation Ministry is responsible for managing the road network of the state while the General Authority of Civil Aviation oversees all the airports in the country. Nonetheless, the prime target remains the central bank, which is obviously the most sensitive institution of all as it manages the foreign-exchange reserves of the kingdom and also runs the electronic-payment system of the state as well as controls commercial banks.
No comment or response has been issued by any of Iranian officials despite several requests.