Earlier this week we wrote how Saudi Arabia is facing some economic hardship with Expat Exodus. Now it appears that cyberwars in the region are escalating. Hitting oil companies in the Middle East. Axios reports that the infamous Shamoon malware that hit over 30,000 Saudi Aramco computers in 2012 and almost crippled it has re-emerged. They note;
Shamoon, the rarely seen but destructive malware that was used to wipe Saudi Aramco’s servers in 2012, may be back in play, according to Chronicle, Alphabet’s cybersecurity arm.
It did not take long for the virus to start hitting oil companies. One of the first reported companies affected appears to be the Italian Oil Service provider Saipem (SPM IM). The virus had hit its servers in the Middle East. Reuters writes
Italian oil services company Saipem (SPMI.MI) said it had identified a cyber attack out of India on Monday that had primarily affected its servers in the Middle East.
Servers in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait had been attacked as too, partially, had infrastructure in Aberdeen in Scotland, he said.
It is believed that last time Shamoon was launched, it originated from Iran as a way to hit back against the Stuxnex Virus attack against them. Scientific American noted in 2017;
In 2012, it launched cyberattacks against the Saudi Aramco oil company, claiming to protest Saudi oppression and corruption financed by oil. The attacks used “wiper” code that overwrote data on hard drives and spread through the company’s network via a virus dubbed Shamoon. More than 30,000 computers were rendered inoperable at Saudi Aramco and Qatar’s RasGas, which was also targeted. U.S. intelligence officials blamed Iran for the attacks.
So far there have not been any signs of the virus affecting any Saudi Arabian companies. But that could change. As sanctions against Iran are having severe effects, some observers think it could provoke an escalation from their side. Al-Monitor cites European diplomats;
Some allied diplomats have wondered if some members of the Trump administration instead would prefer to provoke Iran to take rash action that would provide a pretext for military confrontation, even as Trump has told European counterparts he does not want a war with Iran.
The more cornered the Iranians feel, the higher the risk of them trying to retaliate in some form. Things could then escalate out of control. We previously noted a military confrontation could happen and that could lead into a spike in oil prices which have been rather depressed recently.