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Even in the Oil Industry, Cyber Security is a Necessity

Fotolia 142232737 2The oil industry is one of the biggest reasons why society has come so far in such a short time, but it’s hardly remained the same over the years. Just like any industry, it has changed and evolved to better fit the growing needs of the business environment. Naturally, this includes the technology used to gather data and keep track of the collection process, but this leads to a reliance on cloud solutions, bringing into question the importance of cyber security for the industry.

How Technology is Used in the Modern Oil Industry
According to an infographic from Accenture, technology in the oil industry is used to achieve three primary objectives: 1) Reduce costs, 2) Make better decisions faster, and 3) Improve workforce productivity. 80 percent of companies in the oil industry are currently investing, or are planning to invest heavily, in digital technologies over the next three-to-five years. Of the companies that are investing in digital technology, 91 percent claim that they are already seeing value, while over half claim that they are receiving high or significantly-high value from their investments.

The current status of technology investment in the modern oil industry is focused on mobile technologies, including Internet of Things devices and data analytics. However, over the next five years, it’s thought that there will be significant growth in the areas of robotics and drones, artificial intelligence, and wearable technology solutions. Today’s oil rigs can have upward of 10,000 sensors on them, in which case it makes little-to-no sense to connect them all through wired connections. This has led oil companies to implement cloud-based data collection and dissemination, and collaboration.

The cloud is expected to play a major role for oil companies in the future, particularly because it’s such a comprehensive tool that allows for so many different possibilities. Cloud solutions will allow for more dynamic analytics, and mobile devices will be able to receive and apply data to augment operations. Of particular interest are Internet of Things devices, which have become (and will continue to be) a major mover in the industry. As more devices are connected through the Internet of Things, fuel distributors will be able to more effectively communicate with oil companies so as to report petroleum consumption, and to monitor conditions for drilling in real time. Ideally, the entire operational infrastructure benefits thanks to real time reporting and analytics, allowing organizations to share material demand for specific products based on client consumption.

What This Technology Results In: Increased Need for Security
When you use multiple connected devices to collect and deliver data of any sort, you’ll run into increased security risk. This is the case in all industries that utilize the Internet of Things or other mobile technologies. The reasoning for this is rather simple--the more devices you add to a network, the more endpoints for attack that become available. As is the case with other types of enterprises, an oil company suffering from a data breach or hacking attack is put in jeopardy.

Thankfully, these shifts in technology also provide oil enterprises with another valuable resource: the flexibility to shift their focus away from operations, and toward security. All it takes is one employee to accidentally leak sensitive or confidential data, and with so many mobile devices being used on a regular basis, it can quickly become a problem if it’s not addressed. Thanks to technology making the management of operations easier than ever, companies now have time to devote specifically toward cyber security.

According to a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, the state of cyber security has plenty of room for improvement. 68 percent of respondents claimed that they had been subject to at least one cyber compromise, and another 61 percent claim that their cyber security is inadequate. There’s an incredible need for cyber security that cannot be ignored, as the risk is imminent and could end unprepared organizations for good.

Oil companies need to implement solutions to protect themselves from the increased number of threats, but it’s not always this simple. Just like enterprises, oil companies need to take a multi-faceted approach to their security. On one hand, the need for centralized unified threat protection is crucial to stop more direct attacks against the organization. On the other, employee education is critical, as not all attacks can be stopped through powerful security solutions. Only by implementing preventative solutions and thoroughly educating employees about the importance of security can an organization be as secure as possible from external threats.

In this particular case, due to the importance of mobile devices and the Internet of Things, oil companies can benefit from mobile device management. By securing each and every device that has access to corporate data, oil companies can effectively mitigate risk. Multi-factor authentication, remote access, and user permissions are all effective tactics to augment network security through mobile device management.

Not just oil companies can benefit from powerful, preventative security solutions. If you’re serious about stepping up your enterprise’s cyber security practices, contact IronEdge Group.

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