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PODCAST: With Cybersecurity, People Are the Problem

As threat against oil and gas operations increases, companies must take a hard look at their own security systems

Some two-thirds of US oil companies believe they have been hacked in the last year, and now the industry is starting to wake up to the growing threat.

While hackers continue to target sensitive information, from production records to bidding documents, experts are increasingly worried about threats to the vital processes that keep facilities running, both offshore and onshore, upstream and downstream.

Waking up to the global cyber threat

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A recent survey by the Ponemon Institute found that 68% of respondents believe their organisations experienced at least one cyber compromise within the past 12 months that resulted in the loss of confidential information or an operations disruption.

At the same time, only 41% of respondents said they continually monitor all infrastructure to prioritise threats and attacks, and data suggests that an average of 46% of all cyber attacks on operational technology go undetected.

Another 61% believe their organisation’s industrial control systems protection and security is inadequate.

And while hackers, either state-sponsored or independent, would appear to pose the biggest threat to cyber security, 65% of respondents said the biggest threat is "the negligent or careless insider" who might accidentally download a virus or unwittingly upload one with a memory stick or CD.

Collaboration vital for safe operations

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That is the backdrop to The Bit's conversations with representatives of Emerson and Schneider Electric, two companies on the front lines in protecting facilities from cyber threats.

We talked to Peter Zornio, Emerson's chief strategic officer, as well as Chris Dartnell and Gary Freburger of Schneider. Dartnell is the vice president of sales for process automation and Freburger is the president of process automation.

They explained some of what companies must be on the lookout for, some of the biggest cyber risk factors and strategies for combatting cyber threats.

Read a recent feature article about cybersecurity in Upstream newspaper here and here.