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Saudi Arabia Warns Destructive Computer Virus Has Returned

Saudi Arabia is warning that a computer virus that destroyed systems of its state-run oil company in 2012 has returned to the kingdom, with at least one major petrochemical company apparently affected by its spread.

Suspicion for the initial dispersal of the Shamoon virus in 2012 fell on Iran as it came after the Stuxnet cyberattack targeting Tehran’s contested nuclear enrichment programme.

It wasn’t immediately clear who could be responsible for the new infection, though the relations between regional rivals remain tense.

A report Monday by Saudi state-run television included comments suggesting that 15 government agencies and private institutions had been hit by the Shamoon virus, including the Saudi Labor Ministry. The ministry said it was working with the Interior Ministry to contain the virus.

Sadara, a joint venture between the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co., shut down its computer network Monday over a disruption.

Company spokesman Sami Amin said its network remained down Tuesday, though it hadn’t affected operations at the facility. He declined to comment further. Sadara is based in Jubail Industrial City, which sits about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of the eastern Saudi city of Dammam in the heartland of the kingdom’s oil industry. The $20 billion facility, inaugurated by Saudi King Salman in late November, includes 26 manufacturing units that will produce more than 3 million metric tons of plastics and chemical products.

Another state-run TV report on Tuesday said the Saudi Technical and Vocational Training Corp. was affected, though a spokesman denied the virus did any damage to its network.

Associated Press

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