Gone were days when only physical structures and equipment used to be what oil and gas businesses consider valuable assets. Today, an oil company’s most valuable assets are also digital and not physical. Therefore, when oil managers intend to protect their business assets, they’re primarily concerned about the safety of their digital assets. The reason for this is not far-fetched.
In recent times, digital assets such as rich media, photos, business documents saved in digital formats, have suffered from attacks and thefts in the oil and gas industry. These events usually cause oil companies to lose important information and, in some cases, get into trouble. Companies, therefore, are learning new ways to protect their digital infrastructure. However, efficiency is not often guaranteed.
Thus, this article looks at ways oil business owners can efficiently manage and protect their assets. From outsourcing security solutions to getting it done themselves, here are seven ways to protect assets:
- Have An Efficient Data Back-Up System
A backup system is a system that helps store your assets in a manner that you’ll be able to recover them whenever you experience a cyber casualty. The system brings back all relevant data in replacement of those lost. To protect your business assets, you must back them up regularly. Fortunately, most backup systems don’t cost much. They’re affordable and easy to implement.
Additionally, when backing up your assets, you should ensure you use multiple backup systems to be on the safer side. Apply both internal and external back-ups, such as portable storage devices. External backup systems will protect your digital assets offsite.
Alternatively, you can use the cloud storage system to back up your data. Clouds allow you to store as much data as you can. However, when uploading your assets on the cloud, ensure they’re appropriately encrypted as that increases their level of security.
If you are unsure of how to go about this backup, working with professionals could be a good option. Managed cyber security service agencies can offer you backup solutions that can be easily scaled as the business expands. These companies offer 24/7 support and operations so that you do not miss out on securing information transfer within the organization. This is critical especially if you have numerous project sites and offices around the globe that access the same network.
- Secure Your Storage Devices And Service Networks
Your devices and service network work together to grant access to your digital assets. Anyone who has access to them can inadvertently access your stored data. To ensure your assets are protected, you should make sure the devices that house them are correctly secured, likewise the network service through which they can be accessed.
One of the ways you can achieve this is by ensuring your operating system and security software are constantly and automatically updated. Outdated operating systems and security software make your assets susceptible to attacks as they may not be able to detect recent viruses and threats. Upgrading them helps the system detect and fix security flaws and threats before they wreak havoc.
- Set Up a Firewall
A firewall is software or hardware that interfaces your computer and the internet. It serves as a gatekeeper for every form of data coming in and going out of your digital system. Setting up a firewall helps to protect the internal network facility of your oil business such that both internal and external intruders cannot access it. Firewalls are internal lines of defense that keep your system from cyber breaches. To get the best from a firewall, however, you must patch it regularly to keep it in top shape.
- Encrypt Important Assets
Encryption is a process that converts your assets into a secret code that external agents cannot crack. Assets are to be encrypted before they’re sent across the internet. Encryption reduces the possibility of theft and asset destruction because of the format they convert the assets into. You can encrypt your assets by installing a virtual private network on a public network or through your system’s router settings. Whichever way you go about it, successful encryption will put your assets in a more secure form.
- Activate Multi-Factor Authentication System
Multi-factor authentication is a protective process that requires a system user to provide more than one proof of their identity before accessing a system or an account. For example, you may have to provide a password and a code before being granted access. The password and code help to double-check the authenticity of your identity so the system doesn’t grant access to the wrong user. Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your system and makes it harder for cyber thefts to access your system and accounts.
This is especially useful when you store digital copies of plant or facility blueprints, design and operations manuals, legal agreements, supplier contracts, productions reports, official logbooks, and safety and incident reports, to name a few.
- Use Passphrases Instead Of Passwords
Passwords can protect your system; however, passphrases prove more effective, especially when protecting essential business assets. A passphrase is a password that is a phrase or a combination of different words. The elements that constitute a passphrase can be easily understood by humans but are usually difficult for machines to decode.
To create a secure passphrase, you should make the passphrase long – at least 14 characters long. Or you can combine more than four random words. The phrase should include small capital letters, capital letters, numbers, and special characters. They should be unique and not predictable. You can make use of a group of unrelated or unreasonable words, but make sure you can recall them when you need to. The more complex your passphrase is, the more secure your assets. You may consider using technical terms related to oil and gas or a unique combination of words and terminologies specific to your organization makes it harder to decode.
- Educate Your Employee On Security Practices
Your oil workers and some employees who work offsite will have access to some of your business assets. To avoid mishandling of data and access, you should educate them on security practices they should always adhere to whenever they engage with your systems. It’ll be a good idea to inform them about the right location of devices and how they should handle every device that contains business assets.
Furthermore, they should be careful when interacting with public Wi-Fi to avoid forbidden access to the business’ systems. As part of your security protocols, employees who are no longer in your company should no longer be able to access your digital assets. More so, it’d help if you put policies in place to help your staff understand what is acceptable and non-acceptable when interacting with the business’ assets.
Taking your oil business online and leveraging technological tools for improved oil and gas operations comes with a lot of benefits, so also does it increase the risk of cyber threats and thefts. A single cyber-attack can ruin your business’ reputation and put it on the verge of shutting down. Hence, you must ensure your assets are well-protected.
Oil and gas operations are commonly found in remote locations far from company headquarters. Now, it's possible to monitor pump operations, collate and analyze seismic data, and track employees around the world from almost anywhere. Whether employees are in the office or in the field, the internet and related applications enable a greater multidirectional flow of information – and control – than ever before.