Sam Mackay: Scotland’s oil and gas sector must take cyber security seriously
CYBER security is rarely out of the news these days. Information security breaches at businesses, government agencies and industrial companies are occurring with increasing frequency and at great cost to the victims of these attacks.
With the worldwide oil and gas industry experiencing the brunt of these attacks, it’s time that Scotland took notice.
In the United States, for example, the Department of Homeland Security’s investigative division has recently raised awareness of the problem in what it has referred to as the “Gas Pipeline Cyber Intrusion Campaign”.
Elsewhere, Iran blamed the Flame virus for causing data loss on computers in the country’s main oil export terminal and oil ministry after a cyber attack in April. Alarmingly, upon further analysis of the virus, Symantec Corporation identified a component of Flame that allows operators to delete files from computers, which means it can cause critical programs to fail or completely disable operating systems.
This news should ring alarm bells for Scotland’s oil and gas industry which, like most other process-heavy industries around the world, is becoming increasingly reliant on software to control its process-critical systems. The potential cost to both time and revenue, let alone health and safety and security, are significant.
Unfortunately, there are no silver bullet solutions to prevent such attacks.
However, there are ways to ensure that disaster recovery is as quick and efficient as possible. To minimise the losses associated with information security breaches, companies need to ensure that they have adequate software management and back-up for their data and process-critical software. Effective back-up will allow such companies to access the right version of “clean” software, from a secure source which is protected from any unauthorised access.
As cyber attacks increase, unprotected software systems will become an even greater liability. Scotland’s oil and gas companies should act now to ensure that they are able to recover from such an attack as quickly as possible.
• Sam Mackay is chief executive officer of Asset Guardian Solutions Ltd
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