The Middle East’s energy sector is “more vulnerable” to cyber attacks than the rest of the world, it was claimed this week.
There’s “insufficient” awareness of the threat from government and firms, little investment in cyber defence and unlike the US and Europe, no cyber security strategy is in place yet, according to an expert at energy and sustainability firm DNV KEMA.
Internet-launched attacks on the region have been on the rise: Saudi Arabia’s national oil firm SaudiAramco and Qatari gas firm Rasgas have both reported viruses on their office computers. Iran received global coverage in 2009 when it announced the computers at some of its nuclear power plants had been infected with viruses.
The impact of a major attack could be global and there’s cause for “real worry”, warned Mohammed Atif, Managing Director of DNV KEMA.
He said: “The composition and implementation of well-defined cyber protection plans are lagging behind compared with other regions. This is a situation to really worry about. A cyber-attack on crucial energy supplies and transiting routes in this region would impact the entire world.”
However he highlighted recent “positive” developments including the Gulf Co-operation Council putting cyber defence as a priority area, as well as planned investments to protect energy infrastructure from several member states.