Cybersecurity is the body of technologies, processes, and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs, and electronic data from attack, damage, or unauthorized access.
The cybersecurity threats facing the oil and gas sector are of extreme importance.
As with many other industries, there is a wide array of security threats that can result in damaging effects to operations and revenues.
Globally, the oil and gas sector is also the target of terrorism, with threats and attacks leading to plant sabotage and shutdown.
Landscape for offshore cybersecurity in oil and gas
The oil and gas industry increasingly relies on digital technologies to transform itself in the 21st century. But this digital transformation also opens the door for cyberattacks.
As increasing volumes of data are being stored on networked servers, there is a higher probability of this data getting targeted by hackers.
Each node in a company’s network, whether a computer terminal, a cell phone, sensors, or a networked camera, can become an entry point for hackers.
Due to the increasingly connected nature of the oil and gas value chain, cyberattacks on one company could cripple operations across several entities.
The oil and gas industry needs a clear strategy to tackle cyberattacks and therefore, cybersecurity has become a critical theme.
Growth in cybersecurity budgets for oil and gas companies
As critical national infrastructure, oil and gas companies are key targets for cyber criminals.
Cyberattacks on oil and gas companies promise maximum disruption and extortion opportunities.
As a result, leading oil and gas companies are fortifying their cybersecurity posture by investing heavily in this theme.
GlobalData predicts cybersecurity spending within energy will reach almost $10 bn by 2025.
Robust cybersecurity is no longer just a case of best practice but is critical to the safe and reliable operation of companies within the oil and gas industry.
Current threats for offshore cybersecurity companies
Across many industries and sectors, organisations are plagued by cyberattacks that are advanced, persistent, and are designed to cause serious damage to both operations, as well as the reputation of companies, including oil and gas firms.
Companies manage an array of corporate and material assets, including infrastructure, applications, managed and unmanaged endpoints, mobile devices, and cloud services, all of which can be attacked.
GlobalData cybersecurity dashboards track data and information on cybersecurity in oil and gas, giving insights into the risks that companies currently face.
Cybersecurity concerns in the power sector
The cybersecurity landscape is complex and fast-evolving, with threats becoming ever more sophisticated and numerous.
Today’s always-connected world offers a myriad of opportunities for cyberattacks to disrupt countries, organizations, and individuals.
To examine the four main types of threat actors – thieves, hacktivists, terrorists, and other malicious players, you can look at our detailed breakdown of each.
Cybersecurity driven innovation in the oil and gas sector
To best track the emergence and use of cybersecurity in oil and gas, GlobalData tracks patent filings and grants as well as companies that hold most patents in the field of cybersecurity.
Patents in cybersecurity in the oil and gas sector: past 20 years
Our GlobalData patent tracker in the oil and gas sector monitors the patent filings and grants over the past two decades.
Cybersecurity job insights in the oil and gas sector
GlobalData monitors live oil and gas company job postings mentioning cybersecurity or those requiring similar technology skills.
The proportion of offshore oil and gas industry operations and technologies companies hiring for cybersecurity-related positions rose significantly in May 2022 compared with the equivalent month last year.
Around 55% of the companies included in our analysis are recruiting for at least one such position.
This latest figure was higher than the 40.2% of companies that were hiring for cybersecurity-related jobs a year ago and an increase compared to the figure of 49.4% in April 2022
Cybersecurity job trends in the oil & gas sector
When it came to the rate of all job openings that were linked to cybersecurity, related job postings rose in May 2022 from April 2022, with 4.4% of newly posted job advertisements being linked to the topic.
This latest figure was the highest monthly figure recorded in the past year and is an increase compared to the 3.2% of newly advertised jobs that were linked to cybersecurity in the equivalent month a year ago.
Cybersecurity is one of the topics that GlobalData, from which our data for this article is taken, has identified as being a key disruptive force facing companies in the coming years.
Companies that excel and invest in these areas now are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.
Challenges for offshore cybersecurity companies in oil and gas
The oil and gas sector has suffered a variety of cyberattacks over the years with varying consequences.
According to the US Department of Homeland Security, over 350 cyberattacks were reported by energy companies in the country during 2011-15 that were able to breach their IT defenses.
The number of cyberattacks has consistently increased since then.
According to cybersecurity solutions provider Bitdefender, more than 4,000 attacks were detected by energy companies, especially from the US and UK, for each of the first three months of 2020.
In 2011, a major coordinated cyberattack was launched on the servers of Shell, ExxonMobil, BP, and a few other oil and gas companies.
The attackers gained access to sensitive information, including project financing details related to the licensing of oil and gas fields.
It was suspected to be an act of industrial espionage, aimed at disrupting operations or gaining an unfair advantage in the competitive landscape.
According to IT security firm McAfee, the attack originated from servers in China, hence it was called the Night Dragon attack.
The threat posed by this incident drove oil and gas companies into reviewing and upgrading their IT infrastructure to prevent further attacks.
Oil and gas companies have also been victims of ransomware attacks, in which hackers encrypt the company’s servers preventing it from accessing its own data.
Growing cybersecurity threat landscape for oil and gas companies
The threat of cyberattacks is ever present for the oil and gas industry. Lately, the frequency of cyberattacks has grown significantly with rising digitization of workflows.
Remote monitoring, digital oilfields and IoT are being widely adopted in daily operations, leading to the creation of large volumes of data.
Subsequently, the number of sensors, networked computers, and portable devices is increasing, thus creating newer entry points for hackers.