'Shamoon' virus most destructive yet for private sector, Panetta says

WASHINGTON Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:00pm EDT

WASHINGTON Oct 11 (Reuters) - The "Shamoon" virus that attacked Saudi Arabia's state oil company, ARAMCO, was probably the most destructive attack the business s e ctor has seen to date, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday.

Addressing business leaders in New York, Panetta described the virus as sophisticated and noted that a similar attack days later struck Qatar's natural gas firm, Rasgas.

"More than 30,000 computers that it infected (at ARAMCO) were rendered useless, and had to be replaced," he said.

He said Shamoon included a routine called a "wiper," coded to self-execute, which replaced crucial system files with an image of a burning U.S. flag. It also overwrote all the real data on the machine with what he called garbage data.

"Imagine the impact an attack like this would have on your company," Panetta said, as he called for steps to bolster the nation's cyber defenses.

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