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Cyberthreats surge in oil and gas sector

22/01/2016 by Sharon Shahzad


As the risks of experiencing a cyberattack increase around the globe, a new report on the oil and gas industry has highlighted that 53 per cent of organisations are experiencing a rising level of threats. In the Tripwire survey, conducted by Dimensional Research, just 31 per cent of companies said they are equipped to handle attacks and breaches.

In a survey conducted in November 2015, over 150 professionals from the oil and gas, utilities and energy sectors were questioned on cyberthreats and attacks. The majority revealed there had been between a 50 and 100 per cent rise in the number of attacks compared with October 2015; in addition, 82 per cent of firms reported an increase in threat activity over the past year, indicating that cybercrime is becoming a pressing concern for many companies.

Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy at Tripwire, said it was deeply concerning that such a surge was being noted. “Successful attacks could mean that attackers are able to breach a specific security control or that they have been able to get closer to sensitive data using phishing or malware scams that have been detected. It could also mean that attackers are launching more persistent, targeted attacks,” he explained.

The report also showed that only 31 per cent of respondents from the gas and oil field believe they are equipped to handle attacks. This low level of confidence is particularly concerning in an industry that is extremely important. More worrying is that just one employee is responsible for security in the IT and operational technology fields for 72 per cent of respondents from the oil and gas industries.

“In combination with the lack of confidence in detection capabilities, these findings demonstrate that the oil and gas industry needs to increase investment in basic best practices to materially reduce risk,” Mr Erlin said. “Unfortunately, these results indicate that things will probably get worse before they get better.”

Elsewhere, a survey from Proficio found that just 49 per cent of professionals in IT security have confidence in their defence technology. Over 150 individuals were questioned, with under half saying they have the right processes, expertise and technology to combat cyberthreats over the coming year. 53 per cent said their top concern in 2016 is insider threats, whilst 50 per cent mentioned unpatched vulnerabilities; meanwhile, next-generation malware was listed by 50 per cent and mobile device security was identified by 45 per cent of the survey respondents.

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