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Security technicians are beginning to suspect that highly targeted virus attacks were behind the recent crippling of computer systems at two major Gulf energy companies, even as questions swirl about the source of the strikes.
A hacker group calling itself the Iranian Cyber Army is assembling a network of infected computers, and selling it to cybercriminals to spread spam and malicious software, according to security researchers.
Aviv Raff, the chief technology officer of Israeli computer security firm Seculert, said other companies outside the energy industry have also been affected, though confidentiality agreements prevent him from providing details.
The attack against Saudi Aramco was a sophisticated, two-stage operation, in which the hackers first seized control of one computer at the company and then used that as a doorway to attack many thousands of other work stations on the network, said Aviv Raff, chief technology officer for the Israeli security firm Seculert.