The Security Behind Energy and Critical Infrastructure

On There’s More to IT, host Jason Claybrook and guests will explore some foundational questions about the technology that’s driving us all forward.

Why do we build the stuff we build? What’s behind the scenes? Where are we falling short or putting revenue first?

The days of post-trade show drinks and conversation are far from over. In fact, they live right here on There’s More to IT.

 

The pandemic has had a major impact on the oil industry, from competitors flooding the market to changes in consumer behavior that led to drilling companies cutting rigs and employees. With the industry slowly returning to normal attention is shifting to security concerns for this critical infrastructure. To discuss trends in the industry and the importance of security, Rob Bartley, Exploration and Product Support for Matador Resources Company joined hosts Jason Claybrook and Simon Lok.

The recent ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest US fuel pipelines, has brought energy infrastructure security to the forefront of conversations in the energy industry. “The fact that a gigantic multi-state oil pipeline could get hit that easily, clearly shows that there was no interior design architecture or defense against attack in that entire system,” Lok said.

Companies must look for real solutions that aren’t just ‘security theater’ such as firewalls which can make a system feel more secure when in fact it still has multiple vulnerabilities. According to Lok, the answer is starting with a better network design and architecture that is tailored to a company’s goals for its systems. This evaluation of security requires risk assessment and thinking about how things can go wrong. “Those aren’t nice thoughts and people don’t like to have them, and yet, at the same time, the entire Eastern seaboard found out that one pipeline carries 45% of their fuel,” Bartley said.

Knowing the risks and evaluating the vulnerabilities in network architecture are the first steps in making systems more secure even if updating comes with increased costs. Claybrook, Lok, and Barley share their insights into security and what companies can be doing to strengthen their networks as cyberattacks become a more real threat than ever before.

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