security

Opinion

Opinion: Security trends in Iraq for 2016

As director of an Iraqi security services company, I am often asked by energy companies what the key issues are that are currently affecting security for their operations in Iraq and how I see these trends developing in 2016. Unsurprisingly, most trends impacting the energy sector are strongly influenced by the sharp drop in oil prices. In particular, we are concerned about increasing price pressure on security provision from international energy companies. Those who make senior policy decisions on security matters know that the probability of attacks does not change with oil prices. If the risks were there on a $100-dollar barrel, then you can make a safe assumption they are still there in a $40-dollar barrel. However, our industry is being asked to reduce costs by up to 20%. As security operators don’t have such margins to begin with, this is causing real difficulties, and we advise energy companies that security in high-risk areas is an essential: it’s vital to think very carefully about the impact of reducing security budgets.

Opinion

Opinion: Another fine mess in the making

At last, one sensible decision from energy secretary Amber Rudd. I am among those who welcome the shutting down of all UK coal-fired plant by 2025, unless retrofitted with CCS. That seems clear and unequivocal. Since no-one is prepared to invest in heavy-duty clean-up technologies, the operators of the remaining coal-fired plant effectively wrote the death warrant themselves. On Tuesday evening, there was a fascinating documentary on the box about UK power generation. Basically the focus was Ferrybridge in Yorkshire, which is operated by Scottish & Southern Energy and clearly on its last legs.

Opinion

Opinion: It’s good to talk about data security

Although the recent data breach of four million customers has placed Talk Talk in the media limelight, it’s by no means the only organisation to have had its security compromised in 2015. Every second of everyday a hacker is trying to infiltrate company networks and, with alarming regularity, we are seeing them succeed. Despite this, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Talk Talk, Ashley Madison and Barclays breaches have generated more than just concern and panic. They have generated awareness. The more businesses know what to look out for and know how to protect themselves, the less likely a hacker is to succeed. Knowledge is power, as they say, and in this case it couldn’t be truer. Simple precautions can help, and everyone can benefit from straightforward advice.

Opinion

Opinion: Iraq . . . a nightmare with no clear end in sight

Iraq is now more violent than at any time since the bloody 2006-2007 insurgency period. The country experienced an average of almost 80 violent incidents a day between July and September. Hundreds, possibly even thousands of people are being killed every month and there are no signs that the conflict will rescind in the near future. As violence continues to rage, the energy sector remains concerned with developments affecting Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) territory, as well as oilfields in the south. International military assistance has bolstered the position of the Kurds and for now, this will act as a major safeguard for the region's interests.