Essay Example on Attacks in the digital oilfield can be very Hazardous









Unlike cyber attacks in corporate organizations such as banks and retails establishments attacks in the digital oilfield can be very hazardous potentially causing loss of view operation or damage to critical infrastructure as well as to the environment Examples of potentially hazardous situations that could result from cyber security breaches in the digital oilfield include A disgruntled employee who takes advantage of vulnerabilities in the system and disables pipeline safety monitoring system which increases pipeline pressure beyond a safe limit resulting in a rupture and consequent hydrocarbon release into the environment with serious health and safety implications A malware configured to changing field device parameters causing a process upset and facility shutdown Increasing decreasing motor speed or Closing opening motorized valves inadvertently A worm causes loss of view and loss of control in a digital oilfield control room or causes the system to display fake process flow diagrams and process alarms to the operators human machine interfaces HMI Virus disrupts a drilling rig dynamic positioning system or a worm disables the mission and safety critical drilling control system in a digital oilfield causing loss of millions of dollars in drilling costs and company revenue Inadequate security measures results in confidential drilling information to be released to wrong client and as a result the oil company losses significant competitive advantage Worm disables fiscal metering system resulting in bunkering and loss of sales revenue A Malware infection may cause a denial of service 

DoS attack within a control system on the VSAT communications or last mile connectivity and renders the entire digital oilfield inactive Poor configuration management in a digital oilfield application may cause an oil spill with sever legal and financial implications for the oil company Securing the Digital Oilfield There are several existing frameworks for ensuring cyber security One of such is the NIST cybersecurity framework The NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides guidance to help in targeting cyber security risks as well as hardening company networks against potential attacks and addressing security breaches The checklist below is based on this framework Identifying Vulnerabilities and weaknesses With the increase in digitization of the oilfield the spread of mobile devices and automation of production machinery oil and gas companies must make a formal assessment of their awareness of threats and the adequacy of their preventive measures currently in place They should also identify the gaps in their defenses and then effectively design and deploy measures Isolation of Key Systems from the business network Digital oilfields should limit where possible process control systems from the business network and be mindful of the vulnerabilities this exposes them to when not It has been discovered that SCADA systems simply do not mix well with the routine business web or e mail network which exposes them to threats such as hacking or viruses 

The isolation of key systems must be extended beyond digital connections and should include the access available to staff and employees In practice while all staff may have access to e mail and the web only selected personnel should be allowed to have access to the process control systems that run the digital oilfield in order to moderate the change of misuse or malicious interference Rigorous Cybersecurity Regulations This involves the creation of good governance such as secure operating procedures policies and guidelines which will help prevent inadvertent internal threats by encouraging cybersecurity awareness and secure working practices Up to date Security Measures Oil companies need to embrace a continuous process of assessing vulnerabilities and ensuring that their security measures are up to date This is because new malware software and hardware are being introduced into the network frequently If known vulnerabilities in digital oilfield applications are left unpatched it becomes an open invitation for attackers Therefore it is important to continue assessing the latest cyber threats and updating existing defenses regularly and routinely Security Assurance in Software Development Companies who choose to implement digital oilfield technologies should adopt a secure formal and also structured methodology for software development Staff development and Training Digital oilfields should invest adequately in staff training as a way of minimizing risks of human error and cyber attacks 

A recent study conducted by IBM noted that of all the elements that contribute to the vulnerability of an organization human factor can be attributed as the root cause of 80 of all security breaches including mis configured systems writing vulnerable code and other end user mistakes With such a significant proportion of security breaches being caused by human error staff training is a crucial strategy for combating cyber security in digital oilfields Rigorous Business Continuity Planning Irrespective of how robust company security may be breaches may still occur Therefore a rigorous business continuity plan is one of the most important aspects of cybersecurity All important documents must be backed up so that systems can be recovered and re built in a short period thereby allowing for minimal disruption Conclusion The digital oil field has become a critical element in meeting the energy needs of the world over the next few decades and the benefits of a digital oil field far outweigh any concern over its security challenges With necessary resources dedicated to effective risk management the innovations of the digital oilfield will continue to bring the oil and gas industry into an era of increased efficiency and production while managing the cyber risk associated with increased digital connectivity To manage these risks it is crucial that the oil and gas industry develops the necessary capabilities to defend against cyber risks associated with digital oilfields Strictly saying oil and gas companies should prioritize investment in cybersecurity measures In addition the oil industry must also seek to implement a wide range of information sharing and threat intelligence programs which will aid to maximize knowledge regarding advanced persistent threats related to digital oilfields

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