Study: Oil, Gas Cyber Threats Heighten

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 @ 05:01 PM gHale

It is no secret oil and gas companies face cyber security threats on a daily basis, but the level of the attack are becoming more sophisticated and well-organized through criminal syndicates and terrorist groups, according to a new report.

The cybercrime landscape has evolved into highly specialized criminals having sophisticated tools that can routinely evade many security controls, said analysts at Deloitte & Touche.

The changing threat environment means companies need to evaluate their security strategies, concentrating on espionage and critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, said Rich Baich of Deloitte & Touche.

“This isn’t an issue that is going to be solved by buying some technology,” Baich said. Companies need an effective cyber security program, he said. Executives should ask if their company has enough skilled employees or contractors to mitigate advanced, persistent cyber security threats, he said.

Oil and gas companies are at high risk from web-based malware encounters and cyber attacks because they possess valuable, proprietary data on reserves and discoveries. High downtime cost and attack frequency rates necessitate strong cyber-security programs, Deloitte said.

A story in ISSSource last year reported on annual costs of cyber crime at $6 million a day. In another study from the Ponemon Institute, it showed energy firms incurred the second-highest cyber-crime costs of surveyed industries. Ponemon polled 45 US firms. Only the defense industry reported cyber crime costs higher than the energy industry.

Defense and energy reported cyber crime costs of more than $15 billion/year. However, the energy industry figure includes all types of energy rather than just oil and gas.