Almost two-thirds of oil and gas companies have recently had a serious cybersecurity incident, and only a small minority of them felt confident that their defense capabilities match the threats, a new survey from EY has revealed.
The survey, which involved 40 respondents from the oil and gas industry, found that 60 percent had recently had a significant cybersecurity incident, but only 15 percent have what EY calls a robust incident response program. Even more discouraging was the finding that just 17 percent of respondents felt they are very likely to detect a sophisticated cyberattack in the future.
The issue of cybersecurity is growing in importance for the oil and gas industry as it moves towards greater digitization and automation, while cyberthreats generally increase in number and gravity. That could turn into a major headache for an industry that’s been wary about digital tech, but has been greatly motivated to expand its adoption after the 2014 oil price collapse.
The problem is not unique to oil and gas, of course. Most businesses across industries seem to be unaware of the full implications—financial, reputational, and other—of sophisticated cyberattacks. However, the issue is particularly serious for oil and gas: the nature of the industry makes it critical for any nation, and because of that, a very appealing target for cybercriminals.
Some oil majors are addressing the issue: Statoil, Shell, Lundin, and several tech companies in Europe are currently working on cybersecurity guidelines for the oil and gas industry that would minimize the danger of significant cyber incidents, and at the same time have additional benefits such as cost savings and smoother business operations thanks to the standardized cybersecurity requirements.
That’s a good start, but things will need to be taken much further—and quickly, because, says EY Global Oil & Gas Advisory Leader Jeff Williams, “As more connected endpoint devices such as smart sensors are being deployed across the oil and gas industry, the potential for cyber infiltration rises exponentially, potentially placing the entire supply chain at risk, disrupting regional operations, or worse, causing loss of life.”