x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Middle East oil and gas firms urged to be vigilant on cyberattacks

As oil and gas firms modernise their computer systems and open their networks to outsiders, they can inadvertently expose themselves, according to Booz Allen Hamilton’s report.

Oil and gas companies need to defend against cybersecurity breaches arising from their reliance on vendors and contractors, says a new report.

As the firms modernise their computer systems and open their networks to outsiders, they can inadvertently expose themselves, according to the American technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton’s report.

It said industry leaders must assess the security of external vendors in protecting their business assets from disruptions.

Concerns about cybersecurity in the Arabian Gulf’s oil-and-gas industry have been triggered by an attack on more than 30,000 Saudi Aramco computers last year, aimed at disrupting the oil production of the world’s top crude supplier.

Cyberattacks on the industry’s infrastructure are projected to cause damages of US$1.87 billion by 2018, according to the New York-based market intelligence firm ABI Research.

The need to erect security barriers increases as companies focus on developing proprietary technologies, said the report.

The consultancy identified six trends, including the need to address an ageing workforce and to utilise data to their advantage. Those issues will be at the heart of major resets in the region’s industry, such as the bidding for Abu Dhabi’s onshore oilfields, where a 75-year concession is due to expire at the end of this year.

“One of the challenges is to determine and write down how they [companies] will manage risk in a more cogent way than the past,” said Nick Bahr, a principal at Booz Allen in Dubai. “The technology has changed radically in the past 10 years and the business environment has changed radically in the past two or three years.”

ayee@thenational.ae