Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent oil and gas prices soaring. Fears are escalating that the crisis – and the tough sanctions on Russia that have been imposed, including Germany’s decision to halt the certification process for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline – will disrupt supplies across the world. Some political commentators (and, indeed, politicians) have described the situation as the most dangerous moment in Europe since the Cuban Missile Crisis. And while the old threat of nuclear tension certainly looms large, there are also increasing concerns over a modern method of warfare: cyberattacks.
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Russia has been accused of being behind a string of cyberattacks against Ukraine in recent years – including recent attacks on Ukrainian banks and government departments – and there is apprehension that these security breaches could quickly move beyond Ukraine’s borders. A cyber rapid-response team (CRRT) is being deployed across Europe, after a call for help from Ukraine. In the US, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued a ‘Shields Up’ alert to every organisation in the country, warning that they are at risk from cyber threats that can disrupt essential services and potentially result in impacts to public safety. Meanwhile, here in the UK, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has updated its guidance, telling firms to “build resilience and stay ahead of potential threats”.
The energy sector is particularly vulnerable to attacks. IBM Security recently published its ‘2022 X Force Threat Intelligence Index’, which revealed that the energy industry was the UK’s top target for cyberattacks in 2021, accounting for 24% of all incidents.1 And the threat to the energy sector is echoed in an article from Siemens Energy that features in this issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering (starting on p. 60). In the piece, Sam Miorelli, Global Head of Cybersecurity for Industrial Applications, points to a 2021 SANS survey on the state of cybersecurity for operational technology (OT) and industrial control systems (ICS), which identifies the energy sector as the most at-risk industry for cyberattacks. The article introduces a four-step approach that the downstream oil and gas sector can adopt to close vulnerable cybersecurity gaps in their operations.
The topic of cybersecurity will also feature heavily in a brand new podcast that Hydrocarbon Engineering has launched alongside our sister publications, World Pipelines, LNG Industry and Oilfield Technology. The Palladian Energy Podcast is a podcast series for energy professionals featuring short, insightful interviews with experts who can shed light on topics that matter to you and your business. Series one focuses on digitalisation in the oil and gas sector, and the first few episodes are out now. We have a number of interesting episodes coming out soon, including a chat with Sam Miorelli about cybersecurity, as well as a conversation with Alan Gelder, Vice President of Refining, Chemicals and Oil Markets at Wood Mackenzie, about the outlook for the downstream sector, and the important role that digitalisation has to play. You can listen for free wherever you usually get your podcasts.
- 1. ‘IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index’, IBM, (February 2022).