07 September 2017

Oil and Gas Industries Receive Guidance for Defence Against Cyber Attacks  

Recommended Practice for Energy Sector Under Significant Threat

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Shipping News Feature WORLDWIDE – The fear of cyber attack is a global phenomenon but one which particularly affects the energy industries which play such a vital part in everyday life for all of us. Almost 68% of oil and gas companies were affected by at least one significant cyber incident in 2016, and many attacks are assumed to be undetected or unpublished. Based on a joint industry project, DNV GL is now launching a globally applicable recommended practice (RP), DNVGL-RP-G108, addressing how oil and gas operators, together with system integrators and vendors, can manage the emerging cyber threat.

DNV GL supplies the maritime and oil and gas industries with classification and technical assistance and increased digitalisation is causing an uplift in opportunities for cyber crime. Critical network segments in production sites, which used to be kept isolated, are now connected to networks, making the operational technology (OT) more vulnerable. According to recent research, 59% of oil and gas companies surveyed believe there is greater risk in the OT than the IT environment. Managing threats towards OT requires knowledge beyond general information security, such as oil and gas operational domain competence, in particular related to automated, unmanned, integrated and remote operations which are accessible online.

The new DNV GL recommended practice (RP) ‘Cyber security in the oil and gas industry based on IEC 62443’ is the result of a nearly two-year-long joint industry project (JIP) together with partners Shell Norge AS, Statoil, Woodside, Lundin Norway, Siemens, Honeywell, ABB, Emerson and Kongsberg Maritime. The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority has observed the work and exchanged experiences with the JIP group from a regulatory perspective.

The recommended practice is based on the IEC 62443 standard, international practice, professional experience, and takes into account HSE requirements and the IEC 61511 functional safety standard. It outlines a tailored approach for the oil and gas industry on how to build security, with the emphasis on current operational technology. Pål Børre Kristoffersen, JIP Project Manager, DNV GL – Oil & Gas, says:

“Industry players need confidence that security countermeasures can deal with more frequent and sophisticated cyber-attacks, which are becoming increasingly costly and harder for companies to recover from. Dealing with cyber-security challenges has become a key focus area for the oil and gas sector, and there is greater awareness of the requirements that need to be in place. There has, until now, been a lack of guidance for the oil and gas industry on how to implement these requirements. The new RP, developed in collaboration with key players, puts OT, together with IT, in the limelight, so the oil and gas industry can protect its operations.”

The scope of the RP is guidance on how to use the IEC 62443 series of standards for projects and operational phases, including good practice and a reusable approach. It is tailored for oil and gas onshore and offshore operations. The IEC standards define what to do, while the RP describes how, and implementation will result in:

  • A reduced risk of cyber-security incidents
  • Cost-savings for operators by reducing the resources needed to define requirements and follow up
  • Cost-savings for contractors and vendors based on standardised design requirements from operators
  • Simplified audits for authorities and auditors due to common requirements and common conformance claims
Julie Fallon, Senior Vice President Engineering at Woodside, commented:

“Aligning our Operational Technology cyber security approach to IEC 62443 enables us to learn from and contribute to industry knowledge and capability. The recommended practice provides practical guidance on applying the standard to oil and gas. The OT convergence between IT and Engineering is critical to ensuring successful OT security management. The JIP process leading to this RP has enabled our team to leverage industry best practices, share learnings, and grow capability.”

A joint statement from the vendors involved in the publication of the Recommended Practice said:

“Our customers in the oil and gas industry are to a large extent facing the same types of cyber threats found in information technology systems. Being able to standardise what we deliver to our customers is important in reducing cyber risks and reducing cost. Above all, it will increase the safety, availability and reliability of the operational technology systems. The organisations operating the systems can also manage cyber risks by following and implementing the identification, protection, detection, response and recovery steps defined in the standards to withstand cyber-attacks. In the process of defining this RP, we have collaborated with both our competitors and our customers on guidance to the IEC 62443 series of standards.”

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