Oil and cybersecurity in one sentence certainly makes for a thrilling read, and there will be an increasing amount of information on the topic as the Internet of Things expands and the global oil industry adopts automation and digital technology.
OPEC is no exception in this digitalization drive, but unlike its non-OPEC counterparts, the cartel has emerged as much more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats.
An analysis of data collected from 134 countries by the International Telecommunication Union has revealed that some of the world’s biggest oil producers, including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, and the UAE, are lacking in the cybersecurity department. This means that, compared to European producers and the United States, OPEC members are pretty much unprepared for a major cyberthreat.
What is the likelihood of such a threat actually materializing? Well, the general opinion in cybersecurity circles is that everything that can be hacked will be hacked at some point. Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas industry, for example, has been a favorite target for numerous attacks over the last few years, including the Shamoon virus, which in 2012 wiped clean the disks of more than 30,000 computers at Aramco, and according to reports from the cybersecurity industry, reared its ugly head again in 2016.
Overall, about half of all cyberattacks in the Middle East target the oil and gas industry, which suggests the answer to the above question is “Pretty high,” but the worse thing is that this likelihood is only going to get higher in the future. Related: Brent Spikes As This Major Pipeline Breaks Down
Middle Eastern producers are following in the footsteps of their non-OPEC counterparts in adopting digital technology and automation to improve efficiencies in the post-2014 world, where efficiency has come to the fore in oil and gas. The problem, of course, is that the more you digitalize, the more vulnerable you become to attacks through digital channels.
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