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U.S. Oil and Gas Industry Lagging in Security: Report

The oil and gas industry in the United States is largely unprepared to address cybersecurity risks in operational technology (OT) environments, according to a study commissioned by German engineering giant Siemens.

The oil and gas industry in the United States is largely unprepared to address cybersecurity risks in operational technology (OT) environments, according to a study commissioned by German engineering giant Siemens.

Of the 377 individuals who took part in a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, more than two-thirds admitted having to deal with at least one incident in the past year that resulted in OT disruption or loss of confidential information. Furthermore, there are concerns that some attacks may have gone undetected.

Interestingly, one in five of respondents admitted that their organizations had been targeted in attacks involving sophisticated pieces of malware such as Duqu and Flame.Oil and gas industry cybersecurity

Many believe their organization is at a low to medium level when it comes to OT cybersecurity readiness, and only 35 percent believe they are properly prepared, the report shows.

Well over half of respondents believe the risk is greater in OT than in IT environments, and 67 percent believe cyber threats have had a significant impact on the risk to industrial control systems (ICS). When comparing IT to OT, only one-third of respondents said cybersecurity operations covering these areas are fully aligned.

2017 Singapore ICS Cyber Security Conference Call for Papers is Open

Sixty-nine percent of those who took part in the study are concerned about the risks associated with third-parties in the supply chain, and many said they had difficulties in mitigating risks across the oil and gas value chain.

A majority of the security experts working in the U.S. oil and gas industry are most concerned about negligent and malicious or criminal insiders. The type of information that is considered the most at risk includes exploratory information (72%), production information (60%), potential partners and acquisition targets (56%), financial reports (53%), and operational information (50%).

Only 41 percent said their organization continually monitors the OT infrastructure, but fewer are actually capable of assessing risks, identifying the source of an attack, or remediating an incident. More than half of respondents said they outsource or would consider outsourcing OT security operations.

When asked about the factors that pose a risk to their organization, roughly 60 percent of respondents named either outdated and aging control systems, or IT products that are known to be vulnerable used in production environments.

Related: Learn More at the 2017 ICS Cyber Security Conference

Related: Cyber Attacks Fuel Spending in Oil and Gas Security

Related: Oil and Gas Industry Increasingly Hit by Cyber-Attacks

Related: Flaws in Business Apps Expose Oil and Gas Firms to Attacks

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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