Lessons in cyber security for oil pipelines

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Pipeline security is an increasingly complex issue. Big Data and the Internet of Things offer new opportunities for accuracy and efficiency. These, paired with converging infrastructure and multiservice use cases, have made security threats increase dramatically. As pipeline management systems get more sophisticated and connected, they also become more vulnerable to attacks. The goal to is keep pipelines operating as efficiently as possible 24hrs a day, every day of the year. To achieve this, hardware and software need to be met with the right training and processes to create a seamless system. This will not only decrease the impact of cyber threats, it will decrease downtime and inefficiency.

As boundaries between OT and IT domains have begun to blur, and as explained in our previous blog post “Taking a holistic approach to cyber security for pipeline management systems”, the oil and gas industry is emphasising holistic, defense in depth approach to security. This covers standards such as IEC-62443, as well as people and processes. Organizations are evolving their systems to encompass current guidelines and adaptions into the use case and system security architectures.

The nature of security never stands still and neither do our approaches to it. Effective security is an ever-evolving lifecycle that stretches from the smallest devices to the largest enterprises. A pipeline is only as good as its reliability, so it is important for security to always innovate to providing the best protection, even though no system can ever be truly secure.

However, with the correct processes installed in tandem with new and existing technologies, new security capabilities can address concerns and compliance needs. This involves architectural solutions, but arguably it is more important to emphasise the human element of cyber security. IT and OT convergence also requires more attention to improve in significant ways.

Best practice and well-architected designs should cover all aspects of a Pipeline Management System security system and its infrastructure. Schneider Electric creates leading hardware and software, designed to be compatible with existing security technologies while constantly looking ahead to new technologies.

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