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Energy providers urged to power up security solutions against emerging threats

Energy providers urged to power up security solutions against emerging threats

CybersecurityDeep DiveTop Stories

Antoine Harb, Team Leader, Middle East, Kingston Technology, says energy companies have never been more vulnerable to cyberattack.

The energy sector has emerged as a primary target for cybercriminals, its Intellectual Property (IP) and critical data have never been more vulnerable – while rising prices and geopolitical motives are other factors behind frequent attacks.

According to a recent IBM report, the average cost of data breaches for critical infrastructure organisations – including those in the energy sector – is estimated to be US$4.82 million globally, with 28% having experienced a destructive or ransomware attack.

In recent months, nations across the region have been proactive in their efforts to ensure energy sector resilience and cyberattack preparedness. The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DOE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Cybersecurity Council to enhance UAE energy sector security in October 2022.

KSA hosted the Global Cybersecurity Forum the following month, highlighting widespread energy sector vulnerabilities and the need for international collaboration to permanently address long-standing and evolving frailties.

With IP and critical data protection a non-negotiable necessity for energy companies, Kingston Technology maintains that encrypted threat protection solutions can help bridge security gaps, mitigate risks and complement organisation’s security strategies, providing a robust surface of protection through an easy-to-integrate encryption process.

By carrying out a comprehensive IT security assessment across their entire device portfolio, energy providers can verify their current security status. Should they be categorized as ‘high risk’, they can pursue corrective action, establishing policies and deploying security solutions as part of a revised endpoint device management strategy.

Energy companies must be supported in their IP and data security endeavors and acquire solutions to accommodate their off-site teams. Encrypted devices and USB drives are viable, proven solutions for boosting the required level of security. Backed with unique customer Product IDs, they are manufactured to be compatible solely with a company’s unique end-point management software, offering reliable protection and a simple, secure way to preserve confidential energy-related information.

Hybrid working models adopted by many energy providers across MENA are susceptible to cyber infringements. While office-based personnel connected to network servers often use SharePoint or similar cloud-based sharing tools to save and share data, approximately 40% of workforces in off-site, field-based jobs require access to data outside the internal Wi-Fi network.

Easy-to-use encrypted portable devices such as USB drives and external SSDs are therefore essential for preventing potential breaches, with solutions available that enable companies to manage such devices through their own endpoint management software. Encryption features ensure unauthorised devices cannot infiltrate an organisation’s network, thereby boosting security and eliminating potential risks from the equation. A simple yet effective approach is to whitelist USB storage devices by utilising their respective Vendor Identifier (VID) and Product Identifier (PID) values.

With complete control over what devices and drives can be used within their organisational framework, as well as newfound audit and IP and data protection capabilities, energy providers can also be assured of their compliance with regulatory standards – which is also essential given the costs of data breaches.

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