Hackers reportedly demand $50 million from Saudi Aramco in retaliation for a data leak.

Saudi Aramco, the world's most valuable oil company, confirmed to the BBC that company data was leaked by one of its contractors.

According to reports, the files are now being utilised in an attempt to extort $50 million (£36.5 million) from the corporation.

Long has the oil and gas industry been chastised for neglecting to invest in cyber security.

A ransomware cyber-attack targeted the Colonial Pipeline in the United States in May.

Aramco told the BBC that it "recently became aware of the indirect release of a limited amount of corporate data kept by third-party contractors" in an emailed statement.

The Saudi Arabian energy conglomerate did not specify  which contractor was hacked or how many contractors were affected  if the files had been accessible in any other way.

The company added, "We confirm that the data leak was not caused by a system breach, that it had no influence on our operations, and that the company maintains a robust cybersecurity posture."

Extortionists had one terabyte, or 1,000 gigabytes, of Aramco's data, according to the Associated Press (AP), citing a page on the darknet - a section of the internet only accessible through specialised anonymity-providing software.

The Associated Press report said, the page offered to delete the data in exchange for $50 million in cryptocurrencies, but it's unknown who's behind the extortion scheme.

Aramco did not reply promptly to a BBC request for comment on the Associated Press claim that the corporation was the target of a $50 million extortion attempt.

Over time, the oil and gas industry has failed to invest in cyber-security, which includes corporations  that own wells, pipelines, and refineries, according to analysts.

This isn't the first time that Aramco has been the victim of a data breach. The company's computer network was infected with the Shamoon virus in 2012.

A cyber-attack on the Colonial Pipeline in the United States earlier this year highlighted the energy industry's computer systems' vulnerabilities.

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