Study: 69 Percent Of Energy Companies ‘Not Confident’ About Cyber-Defenses

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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A recent survey of IT professionals by the cyber security firm Tripwire showed that 69 percent of oil and gas companies are “not confident” about their ability to detect an increasing number of cyber-attacks.

When asked if the successful cyber-attacks against them had increased over the last year, 82 percent responded “yes.” Roughly 53 percent of companies who responded stated that the rate of cyber-attacks significantly increased over the past month. The rate of increase was significant as well, as shown by the graphic below.
(Source: Tripwire, Inc)

(Source: Tripwire, Inc)

Infecting industrial systems with malware is so simple there are 5 minute YouTube tutorials on how to do it.

Internet users or cyber-terrorists can and have removed the ability of industries to communicate with their own systems by overwhelming network links with traffic in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. It is entirely possible to hire “mercenary” DDOS attackers over the Internet. The estimated price for 24 hours of consistent DDoS attack is a mere $40, making such attacks available to pretty much anybody. Many companies actually hire hackers to perform DDoS attacks on their competitors.

Last month, hackers likely linked to the Russian government shut down portions of the Ukrainian electrical grid, leaving approximately 700,000 homes without power for several hours Dec. 23.

The Ukraine incident was the first known cyber-attack to take down an electric grid and one of relatively few attacks which damaged physical infrastructure.

The attack was probably caused by a well-engineered malware called BlackEnergy, which disconnected electrical substations from the main power grid. A similar malware was used against Ukrainian media organizations during 2015 local elections. The United States Department of Homeland Security twice warned American utilities about that type of malware in December of 2014 and again in June of 2015.
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