Saudi Arabia Confirms Cyber Attack against Aviation Authority

The Saudi government confirmed that the country’s aviation agency was the target of a disruptive cyber attack in mid-November, where thousands of computers at the headquarters of the General Authority of Civil Aviation were damaged with a virus erasing critical data and delaying the organization’s operations for several days. However, it seems operations at Saudi airports were not affected by the breach. Iranian state-sponsored hackers are believed to be behind the attack, but there has been no official attribution at this time.
The Cipher Take: Iran and Saudi Arabia have been targeting each other with cyber attacks for nearly five years and both are entangled in proxy conflicts throughout the region. In 2012, Iran’s primary oil export terminal and the oil ministry’s headquarters in Tehran experienced computer issues. Four months later there was a cyber attack on Saudi Aramco with a computer virus known as a wiper, which erased three-quarters of the data on the Kingdom’s largest company’s computers—replacing the files with an image of a burning American flag. This most recent cyber attack on the Saudi aviation agency seems to be a version of the Shamoon wiper malware that targeted Saudi Aramco four years earlier.


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