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Italian oil major Eni reported a cyberattack on its computer networks on Wednesday. The attack appeared to be a ransomware attempt that has dealt only minor damage according to the Italian company.
A company representative told Bloomberg News on Wednesday that “Eni confirms that the internal protection systems have detected unauthorized access to the company network in recent days,”.
Cybercrime syndicates are increasingly using ransomware to attack companies in the energy sector as continuity of service is extra important for energy companies. Often, energy firms are prepared to pay ransom in order to quickly resume operations.
Earlier this month, Luxembourg-based energy company Encevo came under attack by a ransomware gang that was closely affiliated with the group that executed last year’s attack on the Colonial Pipeline operator, a cyberattack that brought down the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S.
While the cyberattack on pipeline operator and electricity supplier Encevo didn’t lead to disruptions in power deliveries, RTL Luxembourg reported that data from its customers has ended up on the dark web and that the company has struggled for weeks to bring its systems back to normal operations.
Cybercrime gangs such as ‘Black Cat’, ALPHV and DarkSide are mostly driven by financial motives -80 percent of organizations impacted by ransomware attacks have paid the ransom to regain access to corporate data according to Kapersky, a cybersecurity company - other hackers are driven by ideology or incentivized by rival states. The amount of cyberattacks and data breaches in Central and Eastern European countries such as Moldova, Montenegro, Estonia, and Slovenia last month raises the question of whether state actors are behind the attacks.
While governments are increasingly aware of the risks and have been working to develop effective protocols to respond to cyberattacks, energy companies are still not doing enough to protect themselves from cyberattacks and data breaches. Energymonitors’ Justin Gerdes writes that while budgets for cybersecurity are increasing within the energy industry, the topic is not yet a strategic priority.
The consequences of today’s cyberattack against Eni’s systems appear to be ‘minor’, but the threat to the energy global energy industry only seems to be growing.
By Tom Kool for Oilprice.com
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Tom majored in International Business at Amsterdam’s Higher School of Economics, he is Oilprice.com's Head of Operations