Adipec 2017: Cyber attacks on energy sector rising in Middle East

Ibrahim Al Shamrani, executive director of operations at Saudi Arabia’s National Cyber Security Center
Ibrahim Al Shamrani, executive director of operations at Saudi Arabia’s National Cyber Security Center

Energy is overtaking banking and finance as a target for cyber-criminals in the Middle East, security experts have said.

Ibrahim Al Shamrani, executive director of operations at Saudi Arabia’s National Cyber Security Center, said 300 new malware samples were being discovered every day and that attacks targeting energy companies were on the rise.

Despite the growing threat, oil firms are leaving themselves wide open.

Speaking at the Adipec conference in Abu Dhabi, Mr Al Shamrani said: “The energy sector is trending to be the second most targeted sector in the country in 2017, behind the government and ahead of the financial and telecommunications sectors.

“However, attackers are three times more successful in compromising energy companies than they are in the financial sector.

“In this era, if oil and gas companies think they haven’t been attacked, or even compromised, I can tell them, you are not looking hard enough.”

Don Randall, former head of security and chief information security officer at the Bank of England, said the global cost of cyber crime was around $400billion per year and was growing by 10-20% annually.

Mr Randall also said the chances of getting caught were low.

He said there were 350,000 attacks reported in the UK in the first six months of 2017.

But he said the figure only represented 40% of the actual number of attacks taking place.

Only 1.5% result in any kind of judicial process.

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