Oil giant Shell has become the target of a second internet attack in Nigeria.
On Monday, an elaborate fake email about its operations in the country was circulated, suggesting the company was planning to stop its deepwater drilling off the coast.
The email purported to be from Shell’s public relations team, and contained phone numbers journalists could ring to find out more. The hoaxers claimed the “decision” to stop drilling was a result of sustained pressure from human rights groups including Amnesty International.
The company is investigating the incident. It has been the target of extensive campaigning over its operations in Nigeria, and last year it reached a $15 million out of court settlement over its alleged involvement in the death of Nigerian activists including the poet Ken Saro-Wiwa. Shell said the payment did not mean it accepted responsibility.
The news follows a massive data leak in February when the details of 176,000 Shell employees and contractors in Nigeria were emailed to campaigners. Data included home telephone numbers of some staff who worked remotely.
The email of that data called for a “peaceful corporate revolution” at the company. There was a 170-page covering letter, which aimed to highlight human rights violations allegedly caused by Shell’s operations to Nigeria’s Ogoni people. The message also called for NGO staff to become undercover employees at large corporations, in order to push for a change in practices.
BP, one of Shell’s largest competitors, in 2008 took steps to contain sensitive data by telling employees to avoid emails especially when “a telephone call will suffice”.