What Needs to Happen with Cybersecurity in Oil, Gas

What Needs to Happen with Cybersecurity in Oil, Gas
Oil and gas leaders discuss the future of cybersecurity as the industry continues to evolve and become more digitized and connected.

From cyber attacks to internal security breaches, cybersecurity is an issue in oil and gas that has deservedly come to the forefront. Rigzone even identified cybersecurity as having the potential for significant job growth in coming years.

Industry leaders convened Feb. 16 to discuss the future of cybersecurity in the oil and gas industry at a breakfast hosted by Bloomberg.

An increased need for connectivity is common among the industry now, but while there are benefits from connectivity, you also get a lot of risks, Major General Brett T. Williams (Ret.), president of operations and training for IronNet Cybersecurity, said during the breakfast.

“Boards and CEOs need to take [cybersecurity] on as a strategic business issue. It’s no longer just an IT issue,” he said.

Oil, Gas Companies Paying Attention

Advances in technology and smarter devices – particularly in the oilfield – have made data more readily available. This means networks have to be secured and a myriad of other steps need to happen to keep information safe.

The industry is paying attention.

“As we look at productivity and sufficient solutions, especially for our customers, the whole digitization and operational technology piece has really become a much more significant concern in the last year or two … and we’re not well prepared for that. A lot of the thinking in our industry is ‘just get it done,’” said Archana Deskus, vice president and CIO of Baker Hughes.

Deskus said knowledge and awareness – making people more educated – about cybersecurity is key.

It “breaks down some of those barriers about why it’s important. It’s about protecting the entire business, not just one component,” she said.

Mark Maddox, vice president and CIO for Apache Corp., said he doesn’t look at the issue as a cybersecurity challenge, rather an information security challenge.

“What we’re really protecting is our data. It’s not just the hacker and the attacks, it’s the internal side. It’s the people side. It’s the accidental issues,” Maddox said.

Workers have to be able to secure and access the data provided because of its importance for company operations.

“Through the relationships, and in some cases, just the fear that it generates, everybody is very cooperative and collaborative – something that over the last two years didn’t exist, not because they didn’t want to be, but because they were too busy,” he said. “We were too busy to be secure in some cases. We were too busy to be good … because it was just about growth and expansion and speed. Now people are starting to realize that taking a little extra time to do things securely is better. Not everybody’s there yet, but people are getting closer.”


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