Oil companies hit by cyber attacks
FBI says three major U.S. oil producers got hacked. This time it's IT networks, but could manufacturing be a next step?
Recently the FBI told three U.S. oil companies that they'd been hacked. Marathon, ExxonMobil, and ConocoPhillips had their IT systems violated and proprietary information was being siphoned out. Some apparently was going to China. Most of the information involved exploration and oil discovery efforts.
The Christian Science Monitor goes into more detail on the story, including descriptions of the "phishing" and "spear phishing" techniques the infiltrators used to gain access. It also says that the companies didn't understand the depth of the attacks until the FBI filled them in.
While the hackers seemed to stay in what we would consider to be IT networks, those places can be the jumping-off point for attacks on SCADA and plant control systems. Moving into the next part of the network is much easier when the hackers are working from an established beach head. This also reminds us why it is so important to have appropriate barriers installed at all the points where manufacturing and IT systems interface.
-Peter Welander, process industries editor, PWelander@cfemedia.com
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Annual Salary Survey
Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey