Saudi Government Websites Under Attack, Official Says

Saudi authorities are investigating attacks that targeted several government websites this week, the state news agency reported on Friday. The Saudi Press Agency quoted an official source at the Ministry of Interior’s National Center of Electronic Security who said “many government websites, including MOI portal, have been under synchronous coordinated attacks over the past few days.”

The official confirmed that the Interior Ministry site was inaccessible for nearly an hour on Wednesday due to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. Initial assessment shows that the attack came from hundred of IPs from different countries, the official said.

“Specialized parties at the National Center of Electronic Security have begun investigating this and taken the necessary measures to deal with these electronic sabotaging attacks and decrease their effect on the electronic services offered by the government to citizens and expatriates,” he said.

A new hacker group called Anonymous Saudi on Twitter have claimed responsibility for the attacks on government sites. The group, which started tweeting five days ago, first targeted the website of telecom Mobily after a US software engineer known as Moxie Marlinspike said on his blog that the company approached him to help them spy on costumers. The company has denied the allegation.

“We are Saudi Anonymous, We are #Anonymous We are the new generation of saudis,we are not stupid, we don’t fear anyone or anything #expectus,” the hacker group tweeted on Wednesday.

Few days after attacking Mobily website, the group announced plans to attack government websites. The list of their targets included the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government departments. Several government websites were inaccessible for different periods of time, and the group repeatedly apologized to those who were inconvenienced by the attacks as many citizens depend on these website to access government services.

State-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco was the victim of a major attack last year that was described as “among the most destructive acts of computer sabotage on a company to date.” The virus attack is said to have erased data on three-quarters of Aramco’s corporate PCs.

The local al-Hayat daily attributed to an Aramco source saying the attack originated in Romania. US intelligence officials later told the New York Times that Iran was the real perpetrator behind the attack, “although they offered no specific evidence to support that claim,” the newspaper said.