Browsing 'rasgas' News

Hold it… It could be interpreted as an act of war.

J. Michael McConnell, a senior vice president at consulting firm Booz Allen, regarding a canceled 2010 deal to develop a cyber-center in Qatar, after learning that the country sought US personnel “potentially to carry out attacks on regional adversaries,” the Washington Post reports.

The implications of getting too enmeshed in the cyber-safety of other nations is especially relevant now, as Gulf countries seek help from American experts on ramping up their security, the Post states.

Just months ago, Qatar and Saudi Arabia experienced virus attacks that the US blames on Iran.

But even if such countries are willing to pay “quite a lot of money” to go on the offensive, international contracts should be brokered carefully, defense officials said.

It’s a sensitive thing for a company to go down the path of training for offense, even with approval,” said (former national security official Benjamin) Powell. “You’re closer to the pointy end of the spear.”


Credit: Photo by hj barraza

A source at RasGas tells us that its computer systems have yet to fully recover from the virus attack that hit the company more than a week ago on Aug. 27.

Though the company has declined to provide an official update, we are told that it “may take weeks” for systems to be fully functioning again.

A company spokesperson told Doha News at the time of the attack that administrative services like email were affected, but that LNG production in Ras Laffan and cargo deliveries are continuing as usual. 

According to internet security firm Symantec, the attack is part of an increase in cybercrime in the region:

“One contributing factor is that attack toolkits are now more readily available on the black market,” a spokeswoman told Doha News.

These toolkits are cheap and make it easier for even less advanced cybercriminals to put together attacks that can cause serious issues for their targets. Another reason that there could be a rise looking forward is due to the popularity and the interest that these attacks receive.” 

As to when an attack like the one RasGas faces could be overcome:

“It depends on the number of machines that have been compromised and the damage to the system, but it could take weeks to recover from a large scale targeted attack that is affecting a large number of machines,” the spokeswoman said.

It took nearly two weeks for Saudi Aramco to recover from a similar attack that incapacitated its internal computer networks on Aug. 15, which infected some 30,000 workstations.

That attack was claimed by a group calling itself the “Cutting Sword of Justice,” which said it was targeting the Al-Saud ruling family of Saudi Arabia for “atrocities taking place in… Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon [and] Egypt.”

An article by Dow Jones newswire – published in the Wall Street Journal – claims that the virus which is believed to have been used to attack Aramco, Shamoon, was also used in the attack on RasGas.

It’s not clear, however, if the two attacks on Aramco and RasGas were carried out by the same group. And some analysts told AP that Iran might be behind the attacks.

Security firm Symantec, quoted by the BBC, describes the effect of the Shamoon virus:

“It is a destructive malware that corrupts files on a compromised computer and overwrites the MBR (Master Boot Record) in an effort to render a computer unusable. Once infected, the machines’ data is wiped. A list of the wiped files is then sent back to the initially infected computer, and in turn passed on to the attacker’s command-and-control centre.”

Meanwhile, we wonder what life is like for RasGas staff without email.


Credit: Photo of Ras Laffan Industrial City courtesy of Shell

Corporate computer systems and the website of RasGas, one of the world’s largest liquified natural gas suppliers (LNG), have been taken offline by a virus attack just days after Saudi oil giant Aramco recovered from a similar assault.

Administrative services like email have been impacted by the virus, a company spokesperson confirmed to Doha News, which apparently struck on Aug. 27.

She stressed, however, that LNG production in Ras Laffan and cargo deliveries have not been impacted and said all employees are reporting for work.

It remains unclear when the company’s IT, admin and web services will return to normal.

RasGas, a joint stock company owned by Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil, supplies countries around the world with a capacity of 36 million tonnes of LNG per year.

Saudi Aramco had its own internal computer networks incapacitated by a similar virus on Aug. 15 that infected some 30,000 workstations and took nearly two weeks to recover.

That attack was claimed by a group calling itself the “Cutting Sword of Justice,” which said it was targeting the Al-Saud ruling family of Saudi Arabia for “atrocities taking place in… Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon [and] Egypt.”

In that instance as well, Aramco insisted its production and distribution were not affected by the virus in any way.

Update: Here is the official statement from RasGas:

Credit: Photo of RasGas offices by Omar Chatriwala