Report examines cyber security in energy sector

Data security for oil and gas projects

Real-time data transfer project report aims to address the cyber security issues relating to industrial networks used in the oil and gas industry.

Kepware Technologies has announced its participation in the latest research report commissioned by the Linking Oil & Gas Industry to Improve Cybersecurity (LOGIIC) programme. The Real-Time Data Transfer Project (RTDT) report highlights vital factors that should be considered when implementing an RTDT system in the oil and gas sector.

Security in energy markets is especially critical given the volatile nature of assets and the world’s reliance on energy – making oil and gas one of the biggest targets for cyber security attacks. The LOGIIC programme was established to address these concerns and to facilitate cooperative research, development, testing and evaluation procedures to improve cyber security in petroleum industry digital control systems. It is an ongoing collaboration of oil and natural gas companies and the US Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate.

Dave Hammond, Product Manager at M.A.C. Solutions, the Preferred Distributor for Kepware in the United Kingdom and an Authorised Reseller in France, commented: “Over the last 2 years, we’ve seen manufacturers paying increasing attention to cyber security, for both their assets and their data. In the past, most manufacturers have considered that assets located on their own sites, on their own networks and behind their own firewalls, were safe and secure. However, with the recent exponential rise in cyber security threats, Internet-based intrusions, data breaches and sophisticated network-aware viruses, this view is no longer valid.”

Brian Peterson, acting LOGIIC Secretary with the Automation Federation, LOGIIC’s host organisation stated: ”We are committed to improving the level of cyber security in critical systems of interest to the oil and natural gas sector. This is increasingly challenging given the influx of connected devices and amounts of data that organisations are managing today.”

Since RTDT technologies transfer real time data outside of core industrial automation and control system (IACS) environments, they must meet rigorous standards to ensure the protection of core IACS assets, data and operational stability. The RTDT report found that products employing third party components (such as OPC clients, firewalls, and databases) require security at all layers. Like encryption, the OPC implementation is particularly critical to ensure the secure movement of data.

“By testing third party technologies, our most recent report helps to assure asset owners that all components in the supply chain are configured, patched and implemented according to the original vendor’s security recommendations—allowing asset owners to worry less about security and focus on business operations,” added Peterson.

The Kepware OPC tunnelling system, which was tested for the report, uses the OPC Unified Architecture (UA) open standard. It uses a client-server architecture for secure and reliable real-time data tunnelling through firewalls and across the Internet, WAN, or LAN. Eliminating the reliance on Microsoft COM and DCOM technology allows for easy remote communications between devices, data sources, and applications.

“At Kepware, we continuously test our technology and strive to release products that are secure, which is why we gladly accepted the invitation to participate in the LOGIIC study,” said Stephen Sponseller, Business Director, Oil and Gas, Kepware. “Nothing can replace the value of a third party evaluation from a regarded organisation, especially one as focused and experienced as LOGIIC. This report provides insights that will empower engineers in the energy market looking to implement RTDT solutions in a secure and effective manner.”

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