When you think of cloak-and-dagger online attacks, you don’t normally think of the energy and oil industries. However, a new study claims that energy companies are a huge target for hackers.
Alert Logic‘s paper on the state of the cloud claims 67% of its customers in the energy industry experienced brute force attacks and 61% had malware/bot attacks between April 1 and September 30, 2012. Between January and May 23, 2013, their energy customers observed 8,840 incidents. Attacks on oil and energy companies range from attempted theft of proprietary information–like where oil companies are planning to drill next–to puzzling attempts to shut down the online payment systems of large public utilities.
Energy companies are sensitive about reporting attacks to the authorities or shareholders because they’re afraid of negative ramifications. However, we occasionally learn about digital espionage against energy companies when information leaks into the hands of the public. Among other attacks, Anonymous stole 1.41 GB of data related to Azerbaijan’s state oil company, energy giant Telvent had details of its electrical grid infrastructure stolen by hackers believed to originate in China, and several public utilities had their users’ bank information allegedly stolen.