Offshore Oil Rigs Infected with Malware

The Houston Chronicle’s Zain Shauk reports that malware “has incapacitated computer networks” on several offshore oil rigs and platforms.

“The worst-case scenario could be catastrophic: A malfunctioning rig and safety systems could cause a well blowout, explosion, oil spill and lost human lives, experts said,” Shauk writes. “Some of the infected files — from online sources featuring pornography or music piracy, for example — have been downloaded directly through satellite connections. But other malware was brought aboard on laptops and USB drives that were infected on land.”

Alert Logic co-founder and vice president Misha Govshteyn told the Chronicle, “The tide is slowly rising and incrementally making things better, but the exposed area is really so high that it’s not really fast enough to limit the risk.” Govshteyn said malware infections have knocked some rigs and platforms offline — including one in the Gulf of Mexico. “They literally had a worm that was flooding their network, and they’re out in the middle of the ocean,” he said.

“So far there haven’t been any real catastrophic events, and chances are the malware that’s screwing stuff up is just nuance-grade, gumming up the works,” writes Gizmodo’s Eric Limer. “But if something was to be directly targeted at the rigs, things could be much worse. Maybe it’s time someone updated that anti-virus software; getting rid of the porn is out of the question.”

Jeff Goldman
Jeff Goldman
Jeff Goldman has been a technology journalist for more than 20 years and an eSecurity Planet contributor since 2009.

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