Feeds

Oil companies hit by 'state' cyber attacks, says report

Petrol reserves data targeted

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

At least three US oil companies were victims of highly targeted, email-borne attacks designed to siphon valuable data from their corporate networks and send it abroad, according to a published report citing unnamed people and government documents.

The attacks against Marathon Oil, ExxonMobil, and ConocoPhillips began with emails sent to senior executives that included links to booby-trapped websites, according to the report in The Christian Science Monitor. The breaches focused on the companies' proprietary "bid data" detailing the quantity, value, and location of petroleum discoveries worldwide. The report said at least some of the attacks appeared to originate in China, but didn't provide proof beyond the existence of servers located in that country used to store some of the stolen data.

"What these guys [corporate officials] don't realize, because nobody tells them, is that a major foreign intelligence agency has taken control of major portions of their network," a person said to be familiar with the attacks was quoted as saying. "You can't get rid of this attacker very easily. It doesn't work like a normal virus. We've never seen anything this clever, this tenacious."

In November 2008 a senior executive at Marathon Oil received an email that appeared to be a response to a message she sent to an overseas corporate colleague. There was only one problem. The senior executive had never sent the original email, which carried the subject "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act." Although the executive didn't follow a link embedded in the message, other people inside the company did, allowing attackers to install surveillance software across the company's network, according to the report.

Nearly identical fake emails were sent to key employees at ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, the paper said.

The attacks appeared to penetrate the companies' networks and target specific information. Chief among it was the bid data. Such information could be of tremendous value to state-owned energy companies because it shows where new oil reserves are located. Federal officials briefed senior oil company executives on the breaches last February, and warned that conventional defenses such as anti-virus software appeared to be ineffective against such "state-sponsored attacks," the paper reported.

The report is here. &reg

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat
'Sophisticated' spies, DIY tech and a TROLL ARMY – report
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?