Unknown Hackers Target Saudi Plant, Hoping to Cause Explosion
A cyber attack that hit a private petrochemical company in Saudi Arabia was executed with the end result being an explosion. Fortunately, there was an error in the coding, which didn’t trigger what could have been a deadly event.
The attack occurred in August of 2017, and until recently has been kept very quiet. Officials have not been able to comment on the event, as it is still an ongoing investigation. Therefore, most details are not released to the public. However, it has been confirmed that the hackers compromised the Schneider’s Triconex controllers, which gave them access to execute the malicious software. Exploiting the Triconex controllers is a global concern, as these specific controllers are used in thousands of facilities around the world, including water treatment facilities, nuclear power plants, and oil and gas refineries — to name a few.
This cyber attack is the third to hit Saudi’s petrochemical industry over a nine-month timespan. In January of 2017, two cyber attacks successfully executed, leaving hard drives corrupted and data completely wiped clean. It took months for the plants to recovery. It is believed these two attacks were executed with the goal of creating as much disruption in the industry as possible, as well as sending a political message.
The underlying concerns are just how the hackers fulfilled the attack. They made the mistake within the coding, causing their end-goal to not be met. It is only a matter of time before they try again. And this time, they’ll likely succeed.