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Take heed of international cyber-attacks, warns detective

Cyber security
Cyber security

Scotland’s energy sector must take heed of cyber-attacks on oil and nuclear facilities in Ukraine, Iran and Saudi Arabia, according to a top detective.

Detective Inspector Eamonn Keane heads up Police Scotland’s cyber-crime operations team.

Speaking at the Digital Energy Conference in Aberdeen, he warned around 300 delegates that international energy companies based in Scotland could “come under the radar” of criminals.

In August hackers carried out a cyber-attack on a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia, which investigators believe was designed to trigger an explosion, only stopped by a mistake in the criminals’ computer code.


Mr Keane said a cyber-attack on Scottish firms from nation states or organised crime cannot be ruled out.


He said: “If you look at recent threats to the energy sector in the form of cyber-attacks, there have been attacks on nuclear and petrochemical on a global basis that the oil and gas sector needs to be aware of.

DI Eamonn Keane


“There was an attack on an Iranian nuclear facility, there was also an attack on a Saudi Arabian petrochemical company, and there was an attack on a Ukrainian power plant. What was unique about them was that they were power stations with energy or oil and gas capabilities.


“We have a range of motivations behind these attacks from nation states to organised crime but it is not without foundation to say that a large international energy company with a base in Scotland could come under the radar.”

Mr Keane made the presentation promoting the need for “resilience through collaboration” between public, private and third sector firms.

It follows the Scottish Government’s publication of a learning and skills action plan for cyber resilience in March.

He said that the need for resilience is particularly crucial for the energy sector, operating critical infrastructure such as pipelines.

He added: “The oil and gas industry is a very regulated industry which is well invested in their cyber security, but they are managing an infrastructure

that needs constant investment in hardware and software to address the latest developments in cyber-crime.

“If we look globally we’re seeing a rise of attacks on this type of infrastructure. It’s something that we can’t rule out.”

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