Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities in the Oil and Gas Industry
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Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities in the Oil and Gas Industry

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Tomás Lujambio By Tomás Lujambio | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Fri, 06/02/2023 - 15:53

While software vulnerabilities typically result in data breaches and compromised information, in the context of the oil and gas industry, such incidents can directly impact Mexico's infrastructure, ecosystem, and overall financial stability. To address this issue, Axis Communications, a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions and video surveillance measures, forged a strategic collaboration with Mexico's oil and gas industry. The partnership aims to safeguard one of the country’s largest and most vital sectors, recognizing the severe ramifications that a cyberattack could inflict on the country's economy.

The oil and gas industry has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years. In 2020 alone, it accounted for a substantial 31% of Mexico's energy supply. Furthermore, “In April, PEMEX generated MX$68.1 billion (US$3.8 billion) from sales of refined products, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, fuel oil, asphalt, natural gas and liquified petroleum gas (LPG), among others,” as reported by MBN. Given this pivotal role, fortifying the industry against cyberattacks has become an urgent priority.

A breach in the digital infrastructure of an oil plant could trigger disruptions in its complex operational systems, leading to production shutdowns, operational delays, and significant financial losses. Needless to say, the cost of repairing such damages would undoubtedly be staggering and could lead to big financial losses.

Furthermore, the successful execution of a cyberattack on oil and gas facilities could allow malicious actors to manipulate safety systems and induce equipment failures, potentially resulting in accidents, injuries, and environmental hazards. This underscores the urgency of implementing robust cybersecurity measures to ensure meticulous monitoring, protection, and production of Mexico's oil and gas resources.

Axis Communications mitigates the risks of suffering a cyberattack by analyzing the cybersecurity systems and finding possible vulnerabilities inside the software. By safeguarding the services and systems within the industry, Axis Communications not only contributes to its growth but also secures the well-being of Mexican citizens and the shared ecosystem.

However, the effectiveness of this alliance relies on the concept of shared responsibility. Ultimately, both parties must freely exchange information to prevent system breaches that could trigger hikes in gas prices and widespread disruptions in the energy supply across the country. “We must foster a synergetic relationship between cybersecurity and the oil and gas industry so we can take strategic action that allows us to transform the market, protect our staff and mitigate possible cyberthreats,” says Carlos Rojas, Business Development Manager, Axis Communications.

These measures may have arrived at a crucial juncture for Mexico, particularly in light of recent cyberattacks targeting the US electric grid. Said cyberattack, perpetrated by a malware known as COSMICENERGY, caused significant software disruptions that impacted electricity transmission and distribution. However, upon conducting a code analysis the malware was revealed to originate from Rostelecom-Solar, a company closely associated with the Russian government. “We think the malware was probably developed by Rostelecom-Solar in order to recreate cyberattack scenarios against power grid assets,” says a cybersecurity researcher from Mandiant.

The oil and gas industry occupies a pivotal position in Mexico’s economy, necessitating protection against cyberthreats that can result in various adverse consequences: from environmental disasters to financial losses and compromised power grids. Safeguarding these critical sectors requires proactive collaboration and a steadfast commitment to cybersecurity practices.

Protecting the oil and gas industry from cyberattacks is not just a matter of financial stability but also of safeguarding the environment, ensuring the safety of citizens and maintaining uninterrupted energy supply. By staying vigilant and collaborating responsibly, both Axis Communications and the Mexican industry can ensure that oil and gas continues to thrive, while mitigating the risks of a possible cybersecurity breach.

Photo by:   Image by drpepperscott230 from Pixabay

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