Cybersecurity in a modern Oil & Gas Industry

Cybercrime costs the global economy over US $400 billion per year, according to estimates by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. An industry historically reluctant to automate processes, the increasingly digitised Oil & Gas Industry is facing cyber security concerns for the first time.

The digital approach

While a number of consumer IoT applications are emerging, the major benefits of connected technologies are likely to be experienced by business and industry. In this environment remote monitoring and measurement can help to vastly reduce cost and enable passive monitoring on an ongoing basis until intervention is required.

The most significant use of IoT data will be to businesses employing remote monitoring and measurement technology, which can enable more informed strategic decisions through access to improved information in real time.

IoT applications can not only support measurement, but enable businesses to manage processes more effectively in hostile and hazardous locations.  For the Oil & Gas Industry, IoT connectivity will enable organisations to control risk more effectively and support the necessary transition from measurement to management of greenhouse gasses.


Cyber awareness

The Oil & Gas Industry is going through a technological transformation. A number of companies are adopting connected technologies but many still use outdated and aging control systems which may also have nonstandard equipment and potentially insecure technologies.

When the Houston Chronicle investigated the cybersecurity readiness of oil and gas installations along the Gulf Coast, it found that many facilities still run Windows XP on their computer systems. Others were found using Windows predecessors that dated back to the 1990s.

Although oil and gas companies have so far avoided devastating data breaches, cybercriminals are growing bolder. With the increased uptake of connected technologies in the Oil & Gas Industry, companies need to consider their vulnerabilities.

Between 2011 and 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security registered more than 350 incidents at energy companies and has identified nearly 900 security vulnerabilities within U.S. energy companies, a figure higher than any other industry.

When the Ponemon Institute surveyed oil and gas cybersecurity risk managers for their 2017 report, 68% said their companies had suffered at least one security compromise involving the loss of confidential information or the disruption of their operations in the past year.


A call to arms

While the oil and gas sector may have unique challenges, it shares many of the same security challenges other enterprises face. As the Oil & Gas Industry incorporates more connected systems and networking technologies, companies need to develop an understanding of what is required to combat new security threats. Is the risk worth taking? The sector will benefit from digitisation as companies that have successfully employed automation are already enjoying significant bottom-line improvements. Automating services and processes in the Oil & Gas Industry will significantly improve efficiency, reporting and measurement.

April 28, 2017 | News

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