Computer virus hits second energy firm
posted by Keito
2012-09-02 16:33:08'Computer systems at energy firm RasGas have been taken offline by a computer virus only days after a similar attack on oil giant Aramco.
The attacks come as security experts warn of efforts by malicious hackers to target the oil and energy industry.
The attack forced the Qatar-based RasGas firm to shut down its website and email systems.
RasGas, one of the world's largest producers of liquid petroleum gas, said production was not hit by the attack.
The company said it spotted the "unknown virus" earlier this week and took desktop computers, email and web servers offline as it cleaned up.
The report comes only days after Saudi Arabia's Aramco revealed it had completed a clean-up operation after a virus knocked out 30,000 of its computers. The cyber- assault on Aramco also only hit desktop computers rather than operational plant and machinery.
Both attacks come in the wake of alerts issued by security firms about a virus called "Shamoon" or "Disstrack" that specifically targets companies in the oil and energy sectors.
Unlike many other contemporary viruses Shamoon/Disstrack does not attempt to steal data but instead tries to delete it irrecoverably. The virus spreads around internal computer networks by exploiting shared hard drives.
Neither RasGas nor Aramco has released details of which virus penetrated its networks.
The vast majority of computer viruses are designed to help cyber-thieves steal credit card numbers, online bank account credentials and other valuable digital assets such as login names and passwords.
However, an increasing number of viruses are customised to take aim at specific industries, nations or companies.
The best known of these viruses is the Stuxnet worm which was written to disable equipment used in Iran's nuclear enrichment efforts.'
Oil Producer Saudi Aramco Reveals Cyber Attack Hit 30,000 Workstations
posted by Keito
2012-08-29 20:53:43'Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil producer, has resumed operating its main internal computer networks after a virus infected about 30,000 of its workstations in mid-August.
Immediately after the Aug. 15 attack, the company announced it had cut off its electronic systems from outside access to prevent further attacks. Saudi Aramco said the virus "originated from external sources" and that its investigation into the matter was ongoing. There was no mention of whether this was related to this month's Shamoon attacks.
“The disruption was suspected to be the result of a virus that had infected personal workstations without affecting the primary components of the network,” Saudi Aramco said over Facebook.
“We would like to emphasize and assure our stakeholders, customers and partners that our core businesses of oil and gas exploration, production and distribution from the wellhead to the distribution network were unaffected and are functioning as reliably as ever,” Saudi Aramco’s chief executive, Khalid al-Falih, said in a statement.
However, one of Saudi Aramco’s websites which was taken offline after the attack - www.aramco.com - remained down yesterday. E-mails sent by Reuters to people within the company continued to bounce back.
Supposed hacktivists have claimed the hit on the oil giant, saying they would hit the company again tomorrow. The group said it was “fed up of crimes and atrocities taking place in various countries around the world”, in a post on Pastebin. They said they were targeting the House of Saud, the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia, and targeted Aramco as it was “the largest financial source for Al-Saud regime”.
The group, calling itself the ‘Cutting Sword of Justice’, claimed to have hacked Aramco systems in several countries before sending a virus across 30,000 computers achieving a 75 percent infection rate of all the company’s systems. It refuted suggestions that a nation state was behind the attack.
Symantec, one of the world’s largest internet security companies, said on the day after the Saudi Aramco attack that it had discovered a new virus that was targeting at least one organisation in the global energy sector, although it did not name that organisation.
“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,” Symantec said in a blog posting about the virus, which it called W32.Disttrack. “Threats with such destructive payloads are unusual and are not typical of targeted attacks.”
Saudi Aramco’s al-Falih said in his statement yesterday: “Saudi Aramco is not the only company that became a target for such attempts, and this was not the first nor will it be the last illegal attempt to intrude into our systems, and we will ensure that we will further reinforce our systems with all available means to protect against a recurrence of this type of cyber attack.”'
Disable Java NOW, users told, as 0-day exploit hits web
posted by Keito
2012-08-29 20:33:00'All operating systems, browsers vulnerable.
A new browser-based exploit for a Java vulnerability that allows attackers to execute arbitrary code on client systems has been spotted in the wild – and because of Oracle's Java patch schedule, it may be some time before a fix becomes widely available.
The vulnerability is present in the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) version 1.7 or later, Atif Mushtaq of security firm FireEye reported on Sunday, while PCs with Java versions 1.6 or earlier installed are not at risk.
The vulnerability allows attackers to use a custom web page to force systems to download and run an arbitrary payload – for example, a keylogger or some other type of malware. The payload does not need to be a Java app itself.
In the form in which it was discovered, the exploit only works on Windows machines, because the payload that it downloads is a Windows executable. But the hackers behind the Metasploit penetration testing software say they have studied the exploit and found that it could just as easily be used to attack machines running Linux or Mac OS X, given the appropriate payload.
All browsers running on these systems were found to be vulnerable if they had the Java plugin installed, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari.
Although the actual source of the exploit is not known, it was originally discovered on a server with a domain name that resolved to an IP address located in China. The malware it installed on compromised systems attempted to connect to a command-and-control server believed to be located in Singapore.
Oracle has yet to comment on the vulnerability or when users should expect a fix, but it might be a while. The database giant ordinarily observes a strict thrice-annual patch schedule for Java, and the next batch of fixes isn't due until October 16.
Downgrading to an earlier version of Java is not advised, because even though earlier versions aren't vulnerable to this particular exploit, they may contain other bugs that expose still other vulnerabilities.
In advance of any official patch, and because of the seriousness of the vulnerability, malware researchers at DeepEnd Research have developed an interim fix that they say seems to prevent the rogue Java code from executing its payload, although it has received little testing.
Because the patch could be used to develop new exploits if it fell into the wrong hands, however, DeepEnd Research is only making it available by individual request to systems administrators who manage large numbers of clients for companies that rely on Java.
For individual users, the researchers say, the best solution for now is to disable the Java browser plugin until Oracle issues an official patch.'