Page 42: of Offshore Engineer Magazine (Sep/Oct 2013)

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Beating an

Advanced Persistent Threat

Make no mistake, APTs are watching, learning, and poised to attack

By Richard Sale safety systems resulting in improved “unlikely” event should now probably lobally-interconnected digital use, effciency, reduction in personnel, be thought of as a persistent threat information and communica- training costs and cost savings. But with potential systematic implica- tions infrastructure—better industrial systems for the oil indus- tions.” The increasing menace of

G known as “cyberspace”—underpins try and offshore platforms remain hacker attacks “leapt to prominence as almost every facet of modern society extremely vulnerable to attacks by networks moved to the center of busi- and provides critical support for the hackers. ness operations,” says James Lewis,

US economy, its civil infrastructure, Such breaches, often called cyber expert at the Center for Strategic public safety, and national security. advanced persistent threats (APT), can and International Studies (CSIS). A

Security in cyberspace relies on have a devastating effect on national persistent threat facing the offshore oil interdependent networks of informa- economic security and public safety, industry is the continued plundering tion technology, national infrastruc- and sophisticated hacker attacks can of value from systems and government ture, the internet, telecommunications result in huge thefts of intellectual agencies by hackers and other hostile networks, computer systems and property, fnancial data, damaged actors, including state-proxies. Lewis embedded processors and controllers. integrity, as well as system disruption added such breaches “have become big

Each of these plays a critical part in or even physical damage. The blunt business.” Such attacks have resulted maintaining intellectual property, the fact is these APTs live and learn, while in “a very risky environment…cyber- effcient function of the banking and remaining undetected on systems, space is the wild west.” energy industries, and protection of sometimes for years. If they get an key corporate and national assets. coded command to attack, they can

Hacking the easy way

Yet, it is abundantly clear the cause hardware malfunctions that According to serving U.S. intelligence activities of hackers or malware can could prove catastrophic to the asset offcials, the newest oil rigs, some of severely impair industrial or govern- and onboard personnel. which approach US$1 billion in cost, ment systems and their assets. There is A congressional source with inti- employ cutting-edge robotics technol- a trend in the oil industry that aims at mate knowledge of the subject, says ogy, but the software that controls a integrated management of control and of APTs:“What used to be called an rig’s basic functions is often antique.

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