Oil and gas industry on guard for cyber attack

May 23, 2017

The scale and severity of the recent international ransom-ware cyber attack has elevated urgency in the oil and gas industry to detect and defend against potentially debilitating threats and actions.

Michie. Images from Oil & Gas UK.

Those with specialist knowledge suggest that in most cases, cyber and physical attacks are disassociated, although “cyber physical” attacks, where control systems are hacked to cause physical damage, are on the increase.

The Shamoon attack on Saudi Aramco in August 2012 was perhaps the most high-profile cyber breach within the industry to date. Pirates in parts of Asia and Africa have also been found to hack into shipping management systems to identify potentially lucrative targets.

SPE Offshore Europe 2017 is holding a keynote panel session to help delegates proactively manage the risks and ensure safe and sustainable operations. Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK and executive committee member with SPE Offshore Europe 2017, will be leading the discussion.

“Politically and economically, the attention of hackers is drawn to energy in wishing to cause disruption by halting production, causing financial loss, or even causing loss of life. Cyber attacks on the energy sector, and on oil and gas facilities, have increased in the past five years along with the associated costs.

“Technological advancements in our industry may expose more of our operations to cyber attack. The offshore physical security environment is also ever changing with strategic geopolitical shifts giving rise to new areas of potential conflict. Global networks of terrorists continue to pose a threat to politically important commercial operations,” said Michie.

Frank Gardner, the BBC’s security correspondent, journalist and author, will join the ‘Cyber and Physical Security’ panel session at SPE Offshore Europe 2017

BBC security correspondent, journalist and author, Frank Gardner OBE, who survived being shot six times by Al-Qaeda terrorists in a Riyadh suburb in Saudi Arabia, will be part of the expert panel. He will be joined by Professor David Stupples, director of Electronic Warfare Systems Research, University of London, and Dominic Armstrong, president of Herminius, a risk management and intelligence consultancy.

“Human error still remains one of the main causes of security lapses and all employees should have an understanding of how they are likely to be targeted. In today’s digital world, simply opening an infected email in a head office for example, may lead to serious consequences for upstream and downstream operations. The threats are unlikely to go away and will continually evolve. It is therefore vital that companies continue to invest in solutions that will ensure security for their personnel, assets and reputation,” Michie added.



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