The oil and natural gas business could be the next big industry targeted by cybercriminals, organizers of a security conference in Abu Dhabi said.
The second annual Security and Energy conference is scheduled in Abu Dhabi next month, but organizers said Tuesday they were sounding the alarm bells early about the threat to the oil and gas business.
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"Cybercrime is a serious problem for any business, but recent incidents raise concerns that oil and gas companies will be high-priority targets for attacks," Christopher Hudson, the president of dmg events, which helped organize the conference, said in an emailed statement.
Data from the organizers of the Ahu Dhabi conference said there were nearly 100 cyberattacks reported over the last year by oil and natural gas company leaders and the industry's certification body, DNV GL, estimates cybercrimes costs the energy and utilities sector about $12.8 million each year in lost business and equipment damage.
The oil and gas industry accounted for 25 percent of the attacks from cybercriminals, putting the sector more or less on par with the financial sector. In one of the largest data breaches in history, credit reporting company Equifax revealed that hackers gained access to its data and potentially the personal information of some 143 million U.S. consumers.
"Illicit cyber activity is here to stay," Don Randall, the former head of security and chief information security officer for the Bank of England, said.
A report from accounting firm Deloitte, itself the target of a recent cyberattack, said oil and gas companies in general show a "limited strategic appreciation" for cyber-related threat issues. The firm said the oil and gas industry last year was the second-most prone to attacks, but only a handful of companies said cybersecurity was recognized as a major risk.
So far, eight companies from Shell to Norwegian major Statoil have teamed up to form an industry partnership to address the emerging threat.
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