Oil and gas industry pledges cybersecurity cooperation at World Economic Forum

Oil and gas industry pledges cybersecurity cooperation at World Economic Forum

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Dive brief:

  • A group of 18 organizations linked to the oil and gas industry agreed tor take collective action on cyber resilience in an effort announced during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday.
  • The organizations include some of the world’s largest energy suppliers and industrial cybersecurity companies, such as Aker BP, Aramco, Dragos, Occidental Petroleum and Suncor, among others.
  • Organizations plan to work together on global approaches to increase cyber resilience, adopting six consensus-based principles and sharing lessons learned, according to Alexander Klimburg, head of the World Economic Forum’s Cybersecurity Center.

Diving knowledge:

The announcement follows the high-profile cyberattacks on Colonial Pipeline in May 2021 and the attacks on the facilities of the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp oil center in February.

The oil and gas industry has become a major focus of criminal ransomware and nation-state threat actors seeking to extort millions in ransomware payments and disrupt critical power supply. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only heightened these concerns amid fears that a retaliatory cyberattack would target key energy supplies in connection with war-related sanctions.

Jen Easterly, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said during a press conference at the World Economic Forum that the attack on Colonial Pipeline was a “real wake-up call” to the cybersecurity industry about the need to strengthen collective defenses.

“At the end of the day, we know the global infrastructure is connected,” Easterly said. “We can’t just say we’re going to protect our homeland or a place in Europe. We know we need to partner to understand the threat and reduce the risks of our global networks.”

Robert Lee, CEO of Dragos, said organizations have been working together to create a game book to help companies better understand the importance of cyber resilience. It includes a high-level guide for corporate boards to help them understand the important questions related to a cyberattack, as well as case studies to show what can happen as a result of an attack.

An example Lee referred to was a cyberattack on an oil and gas facility where the opponent aimed at security systems. A malware error caused the plant to shut down, but the initial intent behind the attack was to injure or kill people.

“So when we talk about cybersecurity, it’s not just about data, identity, and credit cards,” Lee said. “These are important, but we’re also talking about human life.”

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