Although cybersecurity has been named a top national security issue by the U.S. government, the threat posed by unauthorized access for espionage, disruption and sabotage purposes continues to grow. The security of networked computer systems remains an area of concern, despite increasingly sophisticated technical measures aimed at mitigating cyber threats.
Cybersecurity related to the energy industry is increasingly important to both the U.S. government and the private sector. Cyberattacks have struck energy targets, as demonstrated by the computer viruses Stuxnet and Shamoon. Stuxnet ostensibly crippled the uranium enrichment activities of the Iranian government, sabotaging its nuclear program. Shamoon struck at Saudi Aramco and other oil and gas firms, deleting volumes of corporate data and disrupting business activities.
Since 2012, the Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies has investigated cybersecurity issues in the energy industry through the work of Christopher Bronk, fellow in information technology policy and director of the Energy and Cybersecurity Program, and Dan Wallach, professor of computer science at Rice University. Their innovative research on both policy and technology aspects of cybersecurity has important implications for the energy industry’s campaign to improve the security and resilience of its information systems.