Mining, transportation, refining, distribution—the oil and gas industry has a widespread and complicated production chain that can be difficult to comprehensively defend. Risks come from all sides: extreme weather can affect transportation, politics (global and local) can impact production, and physical attacks on infrastructure can actually threaten worker safety and even impact the world’s oil supply. With all these concrete risks, seemingly intangible cyberattacks may seem less urgent.
However, as facility automation and connectivity between networks grow and the use of cloud services increases, oil and gas companies are becoming more and more exposed to cybersecurity-related threats.
Throughout this process, constant monitoring is crucial. There must be strict visibility on temperature, pressure, chemical composition and possible leaks. Onsite production equipment, as well as safety instrumented systems (SIS), and emergency stop systems are vital, and they are usually monitored and controlled remotely. All of these connected systems can potentially be compromised by an attacker.
Oil and gas companies have little incentive to encrypt data flowing from sensors, however lack of data communication integrity checks leaves open the possibility of sabotage attacks on oil wells and refineries by bad actors.
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