A survey of U.S. oil and gas cybersecurity risk managers has found that 70% of US oil and gas firms have been hacked and indicates that the deployment of cybersecurity measures in the industry isn’t keeping pace with the growth of digitalisation in oil and gas operations.
In a study from the Ponemon Institute – The State of Cybersecurity in the Oil & Gas Industry: United States– just 35% of respondents rated their organisation’s operational technology (OT) cyber readiness as high.
The Ponemon Institute – which conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security policy – examined how oil and gas companies are addressing cybersecurity risks. Its authors surveyed 377 individuals in the United States who are responsible for securing or overseeing cyber risk in the OT environment – including upstream, midstream and downstream applications. The executive summary of the study is being released in conjunction with a Bloomberg Live event today in Houston – The Future of Cyber Security: Spotlight on Oil and Gas.
With most respondents describing their organization as being in the early to middle stage of maturity with respect to their cyber readiness, 68% of respondents said their operations have had at least one security compromise in the past year, resulting in the loss of confidential information or OT disruption.
Additional key findings related to readiness, risks and challenges include:
- 59% believe there is a greater risk in the OT environment than the IT environment;
- 61% said their organization has difficulty mitigating cyber risks across the oil and gas value chain;
- Only 41% threats and attacks;
- 65%of respondents say the top cybersecurity threat is the negligent or careless insider and 15% of respondents say it is the malicious or criminal insider – underscoring the need for advanced monitoring solutions and critical safety zones to identify atypical behavior among personnel;
- 61% say their organisation’s industrial control systems protection and security is inadequate.
With regard to solutions and security practices, the security technologies that are considered most effective aren’t extensively deployed. Technologies identified as very effective in mitigating cybersecurity risk include: user behavior analytics (63%), hardened endpoints (62 %) and encryption of data in motion (62%). But within the next 12 months less than half of organisations represented say they will use encryption of data in motion (48% of respondents), only 39% will deploy hardened endpoints, and only 20% will adopt user behavior analytics.
“Cyber attacks in the oil and gas industry can have potentially devastating consequences for the economy and national security, said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of Ponemon Institute.
“We hope the findings of this research create a sense of urgency to make the appropriate investments in people, process and technologies to improve the industry’s cyber readiness.”
“The fact that nearly 70%of oil and gas companies were hacked in the past year must serve as a call to action,” said Judy Marks, CEO, Siemens USA.
“As oil and gas producers use digitalisation to become safer and more efficient, there is a clear need to bulk up defenses for operational technology, which is even more vulnerable to attacks than the IT environment.”