Survey: IT Experts Confident of Ability to Detect Critical Attacks

August 2015, Vol. 242, No. 8

Special to Pipeline & Gas Journal

A new survey of over 400 energy executives and IT professionals in the energy, oil, gas and utility industries found that most energy security professionals were extremely confident in their ability to detect a cyber-attack on critical systems, with 86% stating they could detect a breach in less than one week.

Tripwire, Inc., a leading global provider of advanced threat, security and compliance solutions, announced the results of the survey conducted by Dimensional Research. It found that 49% of all respondents believe their organization could detect a cyberattack on a critical system within 24 hours.

Energy executives were found to have the highest levels of confidence, with 61% claiming their organization could detect a critical system breach in less than 24 hours. However, according to Mandiant’s M-Trends 2015 report, the average time required to detect an advanced persistent threat on a corporate network is 205 days, and in the 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon reported that 66% of cyberattacks took months to detect.

“Cybersecurity within energy companies is stronger than it has ever been, yet growing bodies of evidence indicate that it’s still far too easy to compromise the energy infrastructure,” said Mark Weatherford, principal at The Chertoff Group. “Confidence at the executive level is certainly critical and necessary for success, but over-confidence can lead to a potentially dangerous false sense of security.

“Interestingly, a survey conducted last year by the Ponemon Institute found that 31% of 160,000-plus IT security professionals in 15 countries never speak with senior company executives, which might explain why the Tripwire survey found that energy executives have such a high level of confidence in their organization’s ability to detect a critical systems breach. Therefore, it’s a legitimate question to ask if executive confidence is misplaced.”

Additional findings from the Tripwire survey include:

• 94% of executives agree that their organization is a target for cyber-criminals.

• 83% of respondents believe a cyberattack could do serious physical damage to their infrastructure.

• Only 3% of respondents believe it would take over one month to detect a cyber-attack on a critical system.

“Cybersecurity in the energy industry is focused on protecting the availability and reliability of the critical infrastructure on which our nation relies,” said Rekha Shenoy, vice president of business and corporate development for Tripwire. “The good news is that energy organizations are increasingly aware of cybersecurity risks and are investing more resources into reducing these risks.

“The bad news is that many of these organizations are still underestimating the sophistication, persistence and evasive technology of the attackers who are targeting them. The reality is that most organizations need a continuous view of their entire attack surface in order to detect a breach quickly and respond before damage is done.”

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