Published: Jun 17, 2014
Source: Saudi Gazette

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Energy sector in top five for malware vulnerability

The global energy sector is one of the top five most at-risk industries for malware, Cisco announced today in the buildup to GISEC 2014.

As the Internet of Everything connects more people, processes, data, and things to networks, the energy, oil, and gas sector is facing unprecedented benefits in using technology to connect global operations, drive efficiency, automate dangerous tasks, and manage complex supply chains.

But as connectivity increases, the energy sector faces a malware encounter rate of more than 400 percent, or more than 300 percent higher at risk than the median industry, according to the 2014 Cisco Annual Security Report. Global security threats reached their highest-ever level in 2013.

“The Middle East’s energy sector is rapidly adopting smart devices and cloud computing to enhance business, but this is also creating a larger landscape for cybersecurity threats. Malware can cripple an energy company’s IT infrastructure and halt business operations, and potentially disrupt the world’s energy supplies,” said Dr. Tarig Enaya, Managing Director, Cisco KSA.

Global demand for energy is projected to increase by 41 percent by 2035, according to BP’s Energy Outlook 2035. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, and Iraq are seeing strong oil demand growth, according to OPEC. The Middle East is also set to post strong growth in natural gas production, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

At the same time, the Middle East and Africa’s smart devices will grow from 133 million in 2013 to 598 million in 2018, according to Cisco. The region is set to post the world’s strongest cloud traffic growth, increasing from 16 exabytes in 2012 to 157 exabytes in 2017.

To mitigate growing cybersecurity threats, Cisco has announced that it is expanding its industry-leading Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) and Data Center solutions.

“Cisco has extensive experience in providing the connectivity platform for the energy sector’s operators and suppliers to improve planning and safety, support ICT deployment, and enhance downtime,” added Dr. Enaya. “Delivering vital cybersecurity solutions to the energy sector enhances our support to ensure that global energy supplies remain in safe hands.”

Already protecting more than 60 million customers, and recently named as a top solution by IT security company NSS Labs, Cisco’s AMP and Data Center Solutions are the first fully-integrated security solution across Web, email, and cloud. AMP is also the first solution to correlate Indications of Compromise data between network and endpoint.

AMP and Data Center security solutions effectively combat “zero-day” attacks on previously unknown vulnerabilities, stealth hacking attempts called “advanced persistent threats”, and “watering hole” attacks that infect websites that target employees visit.

In 2013, Cisco noted “watering hole” attacks on energy exploration firms, power stations, industrial suppliers, and investment and capital firms around the world.

“With advanced threats infiltrating the energy sector’s environments at the endpoint, in the data center, and through the cloud, Cisco’s mission is to provide solutions that move beyond point-in-time to an anytime, all-the-time threat-centric security model that works continuously across the extended network and the full attack continuum,” Dr. Enaya noted.

Cisco is also enhancing its ASA firewall family for Software-Defined Networking and Application Centric Infrastructure, and its Secure Data Center Cisco Validated Design. 

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