The digital revolution is transforming the way we do business. It holds true for any industry that’s currently undergoing change brought on by an increased use of digital technologies. Better connectivity, real-time data reporting and easier management of an organization’s processes are just a few of the benefits of going digital.
Unfortunately, there’s a downside to it: as organizations begin relying more and more on digital solutions for running their businesses, the risks of putting all assets in the proverbial basket of digitalization are growing. Among the industries that face difficult cybersecurity challenges, one of the most prominent ones is the Oil & Gas industry.
Unlike many other thriving industries, Oil & Gas is not only facing cybersecurity challenges. Drops in oil prices cause uncertainty on the market for the companies. Not only that, but they’re facing more strict environmental regulations which make potential accidents quite expensive and disastrous.
This is the primary reason why it’s so important for oil and gas companies to monitor oil rigs and wells closely. IoT is one of the best solutions to do it, but it comes with vulnerabilities. But why is Oil & Gas industry attractive to haters and how dangerous can these attacks be?
The unique problem of the Oil & Gas industry is that it operates on systems that weren’t made with any kind of network connectivity in mind. For example, plants were never intended to be connected to networks – but with the onset of digital revolution, they are.
This can be extremely dangerous, because a cyberattack doesn’t have to be focused on shutting down a plant or business or destroying data. One of the potential catastrophic consequences of a cyberattack could be sabotaging operations in a way that could result in loss of life.
Generally, the Oil & Gas industry somewhat trails behind in the matters of cybersecurity. Many companies still aren’t investing enough in solid cybersecurity systems, despite it being absolutely crucial for the industry’s survival. Some of the security concerns the Oil & Gas industry faces are:
Sensitive data risks — industrial IoT devices (sensors and actuators) as well as IoT platforms need better security measures protecting sensitive data. Today, oil and gas companies analyze such sensitive data from a variety of sources. These data sources can include:
Historical oil & gas exploration, delivery, and pricing data
Response data from job postings
Web browsing patterns (on informational web sites)
Traditional enterprise data from operational systems
Data from sensors during oil and gas drilling exploration, production, transportation, and refining
- Security vulnerabilities in OT protocols — if not addressed, these could provide an opening to disrupt connected devices;
- DDOS and malware attacks — there’s a significant increase in these attacks that can cause huge losses in the industry.
Solutions for Oil & Gas IoT Security Concerns
Oil and gas companies want data to remain private unless they specifically agree to share it. So securing access to the data, regardless of data management platforms, tools, and data transmission methods used, is critical. Data governance needs regarding the meaning of data as well as its accuracy and quality will often require close coordination with and among multiple lines of business.
When it comes to IoT especially, it’s important for the developers to realize that proper cybersecurity can propel the industry forward into a new, more secure era. With cyber-criminals posing such a big threat, and with so many different approaches available to them, we must look towards shutting their operations down. Sometimes, that means staying one step ahead.
Every IoT product or solution can and should be tested against the industry’s higher standards and put through a procedure that significantly reduces security risks in every step of the product’s life-cycle. Only that will ensure that risks are either accepted or neutralized before they can cause problems for the entire industry.