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Oil and gas sector routinely targeted by cyber attackers, experts say

A pumpjack draws out oil from a well head near Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh) A pumpjack draws out oil from a well head near Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

Cybersecurity experts say they aren't surprised by the revelation contained within a package of leaked U.S. intelligence documents suggesting Russian-backed hackers successfully gained access to Canada's natural gas distribution network.

They say oil and gas infrastructure in Canada and around the world is routinely targeted by cyber-criminals for financial gain as well as by state-sponsored hackers looking to create mayhem.

Lesley Carhart of industrial cybersecurity company Dragos Inc. says the oil and gas industry is an attractive target for those seeking to engage in cyber espionage and sabotage.

But she says the likelihood of hackers successfully disrupting energy supply or causing injury to people or property through an oil and gas-related cyberattack is very slim.

Carhart says even if an attacker gains access to an oil and gas company's computer servers, it could take years of surveillance for them to learn enough about the company's processes and internal safety backups to actually cause an incident.

U.S. intelligence documents recently leaked online don't name a specific energy company, but describe claims by Russian-backed hackers that they successfully gained access to a Canadian natural gas distributor's computer network.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 10, 2023. Top Stories


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