Column: Oil and Gas Industry Must Face Challenge of Cybersafety
The oil and gas business is a significant part of Texas history and culture and a major economic contributor to our overall state economy. Houston and Dallas are widely recognized for their part in the industry, but many might be surprised at the substantial number and size of oil and gas companies in San Antonio, Austin, Midland, and smaller cities throughout Texas.
New production technologies have led to a recent boom of “unconventional” production in both older fields and new areas where drilling was previously untenable. The Texas economy has thrived with shale production and offshore exploration and drilling. But the current climate of low oil prices and decreasing global demand has already significantly affected our economy, and there are other, less visible threats.
I recently attended an oil and gas conference in Houston geared specifically toward the industry’s unique cybersecurity challenges. While oil and gas organizations share similar cybersecurity concerns with every information-technology organization, they also have the added responsibility of protecting the critical infrastructure-control systems that run many aspects of upstream and downstream operations. But, until recently, the industry has been slow to act on the risk.
We now live in a world where cyberattacks can result in physical, and possibly catastrophic, damage and loss of life if these control systems are compromised.