Cybersecurity is undoubtedly one of the most discussed subjects in the oil & gas industry at the moment. With the aim of understanding its role in the industry, and exploring different perspectives on this subject, GBC decided to speak to industry experts and ask for their professional outlook on the matter. Interested how different industry players view cybersecurity, we spoke to oil & gas operator companies, cyber security vendors and consultancies to see if their perspectives differed.
We posed the same question to oil and gas operating companies, cybersecurity solution providers and consultancies:
There have been many discussions about cybersecurity and its significance in the oil & gas industry lately. We can all agree that the importance of cybersecurity in any industry cannot be undermined. However, bearing in mind all the recent cyber-attacks and data leaks do you see cybersecurity as a challenge or even an obstacle to further development and digitalization of this rather conservative industry? And Why?
Firstly, we would like to point out, that, contrary to our expectations, all the respondents shared a very similar outlook on this matter. That is, everyone unanimously agreed, that cybersecurity is indeed posing a challenge or even a risk to the oil and gas industry, but none of the respondents really see it as an obstacle, per se.
‘Cybersecurity is a challenge, what we need here is to have the right answers, like anybody else who are playing in our industry. Fortunately, it is not the first challenge in our life, but it is one of the most complicated ones, since the cybersecurity-related threats are always changing.’ – Zoltan Szekvolgyi, Head of Technology Development, MOL GROUP
‘It is clear that cyber security presents a significant challenge to digital transformation progress within the industrial plant environment.’ – Laith Amin, Senior Vice President Digital Enterprise, ADVISIAN
‘Cybersecurity can be a challenge or to further development of IIoT. We have to strike the balance between full force IIoT which can increase productivity at the risk of cybersecurity exposure.’ – Sharul Rashid, Principal Engineer, Instrument and Control, PETRONAS
‘In my opinion, cybersecurity is a challenge in every digitalization project, but I do not think it will stop the penetration of digital technologies into our sector.’ – Jesus Perraga, Senior Researcher, REPSOL
‘This is not only a challenge or even an obstacle but rather new type of RISK’ – Andrey Suvorov, Head of Business Development, Future Technologies, KASPERSKY LAB
Furthermore, all the respondents agreed that the challenge cybersecurity is posing can be overcome with the right tools and approach:
‘Due to high speed of the threats’ evolution, caution is required in digitalization – it is no question. We cannot neglect the risks when forcing yourself to a “trendy way”. Of course, we would like to receive benefits from new technologies such as Cloud, AI, ML, Virtualization, etc. but we have to be patient, we cannot connect to the digitalization highway immediately. So, cybersecurity risks are not obstacles to further development, maximum what they can do is they can only slow down the developments a little bit. It is a challenge for everybody. The secret is to find the right cybersecurity solutions and to be able to implement them in time. So those experts, who can deliver these solutions will be key to your success.’ – Zoltan Szekvolgyi, Head of Technology Development, MOL GROUP
’15 years ago, most people were afraid of purchasing through internet, whereas, nowadays, many people buy mainly through this platform. If we have accepted “risking” our money, I bet that our sector will “risk” its data. It is a matter of survival, the sector will have to adopt new technologies, and cybersecurity issues will be solved with time and investment, like almost everything in this life’ – Jesus Perraga, Senior Researcher, REPSOL
‘All current and future IIoT business and technology initiatives in O&G will still have highest priority as Safety (Incidentless), so every possible attempt to connect new sensor\actuator trough integration layers to cloud applications will depend on trusted data and incidentless operation of new elements (edge devices, PLCs, IIoT gateways). True Cyber Security is coming to protect from newest IIoT vulnerabilities and threats.’ – Andrey Suvorov, Head of Business Development, Future Technologies, KASPERSKY LAB
ADVISIAN also shared their outlook on cybersecurity, specifically in the downstream sector:
‘Traditionally, the enterprise environment has been adequately served with solutions that help protect systems and communications within the office and management organization. Looking more specifically at the plant, which is an area where digital transformation is currently generating compelling financial returns for operators, we typically see environments where the control and communication systems at the operating technology level are inadequately protected – and the downside risks to an attack here could be catastrophic both financially and also in terms of safety. There have been interesting recent developments in the standards environment for industrial control systems security, and also technology development that allows operators to be much more proactive in their operational plant security. If these new technologies and standards can be embraced by operators, it will avoid the otherwise strong possibility that cyber security issues will frustrate the broader valuable digital transformation that is underway in the plant environment.’ – Laith Amin, Senior Vice President Digital Enterprise, ADVISIAN