Adipec Preview 2018

Cyber security threat to Britain

The oil and gas industry needs to wake up to the cyber threat posed by hostile states, the former deputy director of GCHQ has warned. Brian Lord OBE says a successful attack on its infrastructure could cause "unprecedented damage" and "unrest across the world".

With a complex ecosystem of computation, networking, and physical operational processes spread around the world the industry has a large attack surface with many attack vectors.

A typical large oil and gas company uses half a million processors just for oil and gas reservoir simulation and stores petabytes of sensitive and competitive field data as well as sharing and drilling and production control systems across geographies, fields, vendors, service providers, and partners.

The topic will be high on the agenda for industry leaders at this year’s Adipec conference in Abu Dhabi.

Lord says: "The oil and gas industry is the second most susceptible to cyber-attacks, with the potential to cause unprecedented damage and unrest across the world.

"The primary cyber threat to oil and gas infrastructure comes from hostile states who are developing disruptive capabilities in order to deliver power projection for their own long term geo-political and politico-military ends.

"Such is the severity of a threat from a relatively small disruptive attack at the right part of an unprepared oil and gas system, the issue will be a key topic at this year’s Adipec conference, the premier global energy forum for oil and gas experts, where industry leaders will be sharing best practice and new developments in order to ensure they always remain one step ahead."

Lord, who is now MD at cyber security firm PGI, says countries such as Abu Dhabi should be praised for becoming the first industry powerhouse to realise that sensible preventative and protective measures should be put in place.

"If they are not taken now, hostile actors will continue to virtually roam freely and unchallenged around oil and gas infrastructures, achieving a greater understanding of how to deliver future attacks at will," he says.

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