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    Oil Industry More Exposed to Cyber Attacks‏ Than Ever

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    The ability to connect objects online to send or receive data is what has become known as the 'Internet of Things'. Systems in your home that allow you to remotely turn on lights, lock your front door - basically making life a bit easier - are seen as just some of its benefits.

    However, an anonymous source who is an expert in software programming and hacking told Sputnik that "these devices are usually hackable with ease".

    It's not just domestic objects that could fall foul to cyber threats; one of the world's largest energy industries could too. The Internet of Things can infiltrate oil production leaving the industry vulnerable to hack attacks.

    But while the oil and gas industry focus on the slump in oil prices, production, as well as profits, the threat posed by hackers remains underreported.

    According to Alexander Polyakov, founder of ERPscan a cyber security software firm, the oil and gas industry is "a juicy target for cyber attacks as oil and gas companies are responsible for a great part of some countries' economy."

    In an interview with Motherboard, Polyakov suggested cyber threats could threaten the industry's stability. During a presentation at Black Hat Europe, Polyakov and a colleague demonstrated how they could infiltrate an energy company and alter its processes like pumps.

    As for those behind the threats, Polyakov suggested it could be competitors within the industry, nation states or even potential environmental activists. 

    It's not just the mess made from oil spills that professionals are brought in to clear up. In 2012, the computer system belonging to Saudi Arabian oil giant Saudi Aramco was infected with malware called Shamoon which got into the computer system. Every computer had to be unplugged and oil operations halted as security professionals were brought in to clear up the malware.  

    A group calling itself the 'Cutting Sword of Justice' claimed responsibility for the cyber attack. The motive was said to be the company's link to the Al Saud royal family. The intention — to stop production — obviously, a success.

    In 2014, oil companies in Norway came under fire from cyber attacks, including Statoil. No motive has ever been discovered and the attackers have never been identified.

    Jasper Graham from Darktrace told Motherboard that the oil and gas industry is becoming more aware of its vulnerability to cyber threats, even if being underreported in mainstream media:

    "What we're seeing is a real revolution taking place inside all manufacturing types, especially oil and gas, where they say, look, you have to protect this type of network, the industrial control system side, the same way they would control the IP side. You have to really lock it down."

    The Internet of Things can have a positive effect and role to play in domestic environments, enabling households to remotely turn off lights and lock doors, ultimately making life easier. It can also assist the oil industry by making production more efficient. However, it's becoming more clear that in both environments it comes at a price.

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    Tags:
    hacktivists, oil and gas, oil companies, malware, danger, cyber security, hacking, cyber crime, technology, cyber attack, Saudi Aramco, Statoil, World, Europe
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