Middle East Oil and Gas industry and the growing vulnerability to cyberattacks

What do the global cyber security innovators have to offer?

Less than 24 hours ago, International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that Saudi Arabia has retaken the position of the world’s top oil producer from the US.

So is it a good news for the industry?

Almost at the same time, a new World Energy Council report said that The oil and gas sector could be spending almost $2billion a year on cyber security by 2018. (https://www.energyvoice.com/insights/119202/oil-gas-firms-cyber-security-bill-hit-2bln-2018/)

The Middle-East Oil and Gas industry is considered much more vulnerable to cyber threats than their counterparts elsewhere. The UAE’s leading newspaper Gulf news had recently carried this piece which highlights the regional vulnerabilities and why it is happening. (http://gulfnews.com/business/sectors/technology/mideast-oil-and-gas-sector-faces-wider-cyberattacks-1.1854885)

The Saudi Aramco breach in 2012 which infected over 30,000 machines, wiped data with impunity and had the potential to affect an organisation that supplied approximately 10% of the worlds oil supply. It was said that the result of Aramco deciding to replace 50,000 hard drives actually affected the price of disks between September 2012 and January 2013. As far as we know the perpetrators where never identified or caught although a state-sponsored attack was not ruled out. This was in the same year that Qatars RasGas was also targeted shutting down web-sites and email servers. Luckily in both cases, supply was not really impacted but the cost and time of recovery and investigation clearly must have been significant and could have been disastrous for a smaller organisations.
Stuxnet, a few years earlier did have a more physical impact damaging or destroying centrifuges used for uranium enrichment. Again, a state-sponsored attack wasn’t ruled out (http://www.langner.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/To-kill-a-centrifuge.pdf)

According to the Repository of Industrial Security Incidents (RISI) data, cyberattacks against oil and gas organisations in the Middle-East make up more than half of the recorded instances. In parallel, in the US or other Western countries, they make up less than 30 per cent of the recorded instances.

According to Jebin George, senior research analyst at research firm International Data Corporation, IT spending by Middle-East Oil and Gas sector is expected to grow to $1.83 billion in 2016 compared to $1.77 billion in 2015.

Katharina Rick, Partner and Managing Director at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), said that the rate of cyberattacks targeting companies in the regional oil and gas sector is notably high, especially compared to global figures. “Given their widespread popularity and ability to store sensitive or confidential data, mobile devices are increasingly turning into an open frontier for cyberattacks. In the Middle-East and Africa, the situation is especially dire considering the region’s high mobile phone penetration rates,” Rick said.

Experts believe that the sophistication and frequency of cyber-attacks is growing and getting more complex with cloud computing, big data and cyber security.

Hence the critical question is for the innovators and providers of security solutions – what unique solutions they can offer to this sector in the region?

Jeremy Boorer , Advisory Board member for eSecurityDen and spokesperson for eSecurityDen 2017 , Dubai.

eSecurityDen.com (ESD) is a U.K. based organisation with a clear intention to create an innovative informative events knowledge platform for everyone who is in the business of e-security. Helping bridge the gap between connecting the most innovative e-security technology with high performance events worldwide.

ESD has launched its first eSecurityDen event in Dubai, UAE on 28 February 2017.

eSecurityDen 2017 Dubai February 28 2017 is a one day high impact, demonstrate only, conference which brings over 200 senior decision makers and buyers of security solutions from banking, retail, hospitality and oil&gas sectors in GCC together.