Oil & gas firms to invest in data security and management

by Sohini Bagchi    Feb 08, 2013

Oil  gas firms

The oil and gas is a vast sector and perhaps the most critical industry in any country. However, in recent times, the industry has been facing tremendous challenges in data security and management. An ABI Research however forecasts that the security scenario will improve in the coming years as the cyber security spending on the oil and gas critical infrastructure will reach $1.87 billion by 2018.

Enterprises in this sector will continue to invest in areas such as IT networks, industrial control systems and data security and management. Adequate counter measures and strengthening of policies and procedures will also be the top agenda for CIOs and CSOs in the oil and gas sector, stated the research.

For the past several years, the oil and gas companies, especially in the Middle East were reeling under data security, storage and management crisis which as adversely affecting the production and operational efficiency of the sector. In the security domain, experts point out that most of these companies continue to rely on legacy control systems such as Scada and other solutions that were not adequately protected against the changing cyber threat landscape.

The multi-billion dollar industry has already witnessed a number of catastrophic attacks such as Shady RAT, Night Dragon, Stuxnet, Duqu and very recently, Shamoon. Almost all these attacks have caused widespread financial and infrastructural damages to companies. However the industry was still slow to adapt to the dynamic threat landscape and are laggards in terms of adequate cyber security measures.

“The terrorist threat is just as real online as it is in the physical world,” says Costin Raiu, Director of the global research and analysis team, Kaspersky Lab. He estimates that as the number of cyber-attacks on the oil and gas sector will increase in the coming years and if similar mindset continues to persist, the industry can suffer from catastrophic circumstances.

On a positive note, ABI researchers point out that realization of the financial implications of persistent cyber threats will boost cybersecurity spending in this field in the coming months, with spending set to increase considerably from 2014 onwards.

There are several other data related challenges facing the oil and gas industry. Data storage, data management, data archiving are some of the ongoing challenges in the industry. The other factor is to continually meet the strong global demand while at the same time striving to control cost. However, adequate use of IT in streamlining and automating processes often proved helpful for this sector.

“One of the challenges in the industry is long term data protection to securely store and manage organization data assets. At the same time, the type of data collected within the sector can result in multiple complexities,” says Rakesh Singh, senior manager – technology practices at Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd.

Earlier the storage techniques were also highly traditional. Along with the traditional ways of storing data, experts believe that the sector should new methods of reaping benefits especially when trying to avoid data duplication, data corruption and losses. This has been solved through de-duplication technology as well as faster backup technologies and other newer methods have helped oil companies in maximizing process efficiency. Some organizations have also created automated near-line and on-line data management systems.

However, many companies still need to move to contemporary data security and storage systems to maximize operational efficiency and drastically reduces costs.