Analytical Instrumentation

Are Oil Companies Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks?

Jun 04 2018 Read 467 Times

From the Equifax Data Breach to the US Homeland Security hack, cyber warfare dominates its fair share of headlines. The oil and gas industry is no exception, with roughly three-quarters of US oil and gas companies experiencing a breach in 2016.

While cybercrime is clearly on the rise, experts have slammed the industry for failing to arm itself against attacks, with some companies spending almost nothing on cyber security. The latest findings from Deloitte suggest this is a major faux pas, with energy labelled as the second most targeted industry by cyber threats. Despite the high risk of attack, the report revealed that most energy companies spend less than 0.2% of their revenues on cybersecurity development. In comparison, banks and financial service providers spend more than three times this amount.

Paying the price of digitisation

Digitisation is on the rise, with new technologies offering oil and gas companies a host of benefits. Today its used to power everything from pipeline technology and platform software to employee information and payroll data. Specifically, Deloitte identified development drilling and production as the highest risk category, as well as industrial control systems like borehole sensors and programmable well logic controllers.

While the industry has wholeheartedly embraced digital technologies it appears to be failing when it comes to catching up with cyber security. As a result, the more reliant oil and gas companies become on technology, the more vulnerable they become.

Deloitte didn't mince its words when outlining the risk, stating “If a cyber attacker were to manipulate the cement slurry data coming out of an offshore development well, black out monitors’ live views of offshore drilling, or delay the well-flow data required for blowout preventers to stop the eruption of fluids, the impact could be devastating.”

Upward oil trend could spark cybersecurity renaissance

Failure to invest in cybersecurity is largely down to the global oil price slump, which forced companies to slash funding across the board. This meant cybersecurity was pushed to the backburner to make room for pressing budgets and keep companies afloat. Moving forward, rising oil prices could trigger an upward trend in companies channelling more cash into cybersecurity projects.

Want to know more about the latest oil and gas tech trends? Focussing on upstream, midstream and downstream applications, 'Current Application Trends in the Petroleum Industry Using EDXRF and Process XRT Gauge' introduces Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence as a robust, simple and fast analytical technique.

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