Executives for some of the world’s largest oil companies stressed that cyber attacks against their companies are becoming more strategic and happening more frequently at a conference last week, according to a report today from the BBC.
At the 20th World Petroleum Congress in Doha, Qatar, one of those executives, Ludolf Luehmann, an IT manager for Shell warned that such attacks could cause “huge damage” going forward.
“It will cost lives and it will cost production; it will cost money, cause fires and cause loss of containment, environmental damage,” Luehmann told the crowd.
Officials made several references to Stuxnet, the worm that took aim at industrial systems in 2010, while foreshadowing the future of their industry. Loads of digital ink have already been spilled on Stuxnet and of course, the similar Duqu, two worms that have made it easier to focus attacks on industrial systems. These industrial systems also regulate the flow of oil, in turn dictating prices. By getting their hands on these systems, attackers could easily pilfer companies’ research, gain competitive advantage or sabotage machinery.
Lending credence to these possibilities, Luehmann added that the attacks have been classified as both criminal and commercial in nature.