• 5 hours Bad News For The Climate: Coal Burning, And Carbon Emissions, Are On The Rise Again
  • 9 hours This Will Be the Answer From China On U.S. Tariffs
  • 15 hours Getting out of oil .. now
  • 8 hours Snowden Reveals Bitcoin Transactions Being Tracked by NSA
  • 1 day Elon Musk’s $2.6 Billion Tesla Challenge
  • 1 day Too much or doable - $900 Billion Annual Investments Needed In Renewables By 2030
  • 6 hours Twitcoin....
  • 14 hours The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica Scandal
  • 13 hours Surprise! Aramco Scraps International Listing Plans
  • 1 day U.S. Arrests Iranian Over Alleged $115 Million Sanctions Evasion Scheme Involving Venezuelan Housing Project
  • 17 hours U.S. Judge To Question Big Oil On Climate Change
  • 3 hours Country With Biggest Oil Reserves Biggest Threat to World Economy
  • 11 hours EU Proposes Online Turnover Tax For Big Tech Firms
  • 1 day CERAweek Meeting
  • 1 day Bad seven days for Martin Shkreli
  • 1 day Nuclear Bomb = Nuclear War: Saudi Arabia Will Develop Nuclear Bomb If Iran Does
Alt Text

Two LNG Giants Race For The Same Gas

Two of the biggest LNG…

Alt Text

Diesel Trucks Are Here To Stay

While alternative fuel commercial trucks…

Alt Text

Colombia’s Fracking Dilemma

Fracking is quickly becoming a…

Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

More Info

Trending Discussions

Cyberattacks: The Biggest Threat To OPEC

Cyber Attack

Oil and cybersecurity in one sentence certainly makes for a thrilling read, and there will be an increasing amount of information on the topic as the Internet of Things expands and the global oil industry adopts automation and digital technology.

OPEC is no exception in this digitalization drive, but unlike its non-OPEC counterparts, the cartel has emerged as much more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats.

An analysis of data collected from 134 countries by the International Telecommunication Union has revealed that some of the world’s biggest oil producers, including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, and the UAE, are lacking in the cybersecurity department. According to The Fuse, ''Countries that rank low in cyber readiness account for more than 44 million barrels per day (mbd), approximately 45 percent of the world’s daily oil production''. This means that, compared to European producers and the United States, large OPEC members are pretty much unprepared for a major cyberthreat.

What is the likelihood of such a threat actually materializing? Well, the general opinion in cybersecurity circles is that everything that can be hacked will be hacked at some point. Paul Ruiz of The Fuse assesed the risks for several OPEC producers and notes that especially Saudi Arabia is an ''attractive target for hackers''. Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas industry, for example, has been a favorite target for numerous attacks over the last few years, including the Shamoon virus, which in 2012 wiped clean the disks of more than 30,000 computers at Aramco, and according to reports from the cybersecurity industry, reared its ugly head again in 2016.

Overall, about half of all cyberattacks in the Middle East target the oil and gas industry, which suggests the answer to the above question is “Pretty high,” but the worse thing is that this likelihood is only going to get higher in the future. Related: Brent Spikes As This Major Pipeline Breaks Down

Middle Eastern producers are following in the footsteps of their non-OPEC counterparts in adopting digital technology and automation to improve efficiencies in the post-2014 world, where efficiency has come to the fore in oil and gas. The problem, of course, is that the more you digitalize, the more vulnerable you become to attacks through digital channels.

A recent study from Siemens and Ponemon Institute found that as digital tech adoption in the Middle East oil industry rises, so does cyber risk. What’s more, this risk is no longer limited to IT operations: the operational technology area is gaining prominence as a preferred target for cybercriminals.

The reason, according to Siemens and Ponemon Institute, is the convergence between IT and OT in the oil and gas industry. “Attackers have identified this convergence of IT and OT as a key opportunity to penetrate an organisation. As a result, an emerging trend of cyberattacks is designed to disrupt physical devices or processes used in operations. In a digital environment, industrial cyber is the new risk frontier,” says Siemens’ Vice President and Global Head of Industrial Cyber, Leo Simonovich.

The cybersecurity industry is sounding an alarm and it seems those in the Middle East that can afford it are hearing it and heeding the warning to improve their cybersecurity capabilities. Related: Why Is Canadian Oil So Cheap?

The UAE has a Dubai Cyber Security Strategy. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia launched a National Cyber Security Center, and last month announced the set-up of a National Authority for Cyber Security, seeking to utilize international expertise and best practices to prop up government and critical infrastructure defenses. Iraq is seriously lagging behind and Iran is seen by cybersecurity insiders as more a source of cyberthreats than as a potential victim.

This sounds all well and good, but the trends in cybercrime point to a desperate need to do more. Cybercriminals do not sit on their hands while potential victims work to improve their defenses. While cybersecurity service providers continue to warn businesses and other organizations that they need to become more pro-active with regard to their cybersecurity measures, the hackers are coming up with new ways to undermine existing defenses. This is true for all industries, but it is especially true for oil and gas in the Middle East—national energy infrastructures are called critical for a reason, after all.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:

Back to homepage

Trending Discussions

Leave a comment

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News