WVPA Staff Report
CANAAN VALLEY, W.Va. — Finding a panel discussion about cybersecurity on the agenda for an oil and natural gas industry conference might surprise some, but presenters at the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association fall meeting were clear: cybersecurity is a concern for all industries and companies.
Susan Haller Pauley and Karen Kahle of Steptoe & Johnson, and Michelle Pirtle, the FBI’s private sector coordinator for InfraGard at the FBI’s Pittsburgh division, spoke on cybersecurity Tuesday at WVONGA’s fall meeting at Canaan Valley Resort.
Speaking to those at the conference, Pauley said “the concern is very real” and “acting immediately” when a breach is discovered is a key to limiting the company damage and corporate liability.
Anne Blankenship, executive director of WVONGA, said the association wanted to give its members as much information as possible on the dangers of cybersecurity and methods of reducing the threat.
“Cybersecurity is a real threat to all of us, but especially to the critical natural gas infrastructure in our country. This panel is to inform our members of specific threats to our industry, how to protect themselves, and where to turn if an incident occurs. The FBI reporting center is based right here in West Virginia, where we are a leader in cybersecurity protection,” Blankenship said.
Pauley said two of the more common issues are ransomware and phishing scams.
— Ramsonware takes control of a company’s software and literally requires a company to pay a ransom to hackers to regain control of their computers, drivers and software.
— A recent phishing scam Pauley outlined sends emails that look like internal memos or messages from a company executive asking for W2 payroll information on all employees be sent in reply right away. Pauley said employees caught off guard by the apparent request from an executive with a demand for immediate action, quickly respond, sending W2 information to hackers.
Kahle explained that the energy industry if one of 16 areas the government considers key infrastructure sections. She addressed best practices to defend against cyber attacks.
Pirtle told the oil and natural gas representatives that cyber breaches anywhere in the county can impact a local company. Pirtle explained the FBI’s efforts to battle cyber attacks, noting the key areas: hactivist, criminal activity, espionage, terrorism and state-sponsored disruptions/war.