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Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…

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Three-Fourths Of All US Energy Firms Were Hacked In 2016

Hackers have targeted Russian oil giant Rosneft, the company said on Tuesday, just as Deloitte released a report on cyber-attacks targeting U.S. oil companies.

A “powerful hacker” attacked the company’s server in an assault that, according to TASS news agency, could be related to ongoing legal proceedings.

A Russian court recently froze assets of a holding company called Sistema as part of a suit lodged by Rosneft and Bashneft. The two companies are trying to recover $2.9 billion lost during Sistema’s 2014 restructuring.

Russian companies are not the only ones facing the new frontier in corporate espionage. U.S. consulting major Deloitte released a report on Monday that said American energy companies showed “limited strategic appreciation” for cyber-threats.

Analysts said three of every four U.S. oil and gas companies experienced a cyber-attack in 2016, but only a few firms said the computerized attacks posed a major security risk.

"Whether hackers use spyware targeting bidding data of fields, malware infecting production control systems, or denial of service that blocks the flow of information through control systems, they are becoming increasingly sophisticated and, specifically alarming, launching coordinated attacks on the industry," the report said.

Low crude prices have caused energy companies to focus their spending on operations that maximize value for shareholders, instead of investing in protective cyber security measures.

On the most vulnerable aspects of the oil and gas supply chain, Deloitte wrote: “Among the upstream operations, development drilling and production have the highest cyber risk profiles; while seismic imaging has a relatively lower risk profile, the growing business need to digitize, e-store, and feed seismic data into other disciplines could raise its risk profile in the future.”

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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