Over half of oil and gas CEOs expect to fall victim of cyber attacks
According to the 2019 Global CEO Outlook published by KPMG International, business leaders in the oil & gas sector are optimistic about the future with 91 per cent confident about their organisation’s growth prospects.
However, the report also revealed that the same group have growing anxieties about existential threats. The 2019 study showed that oil & gas CEOs ranked cybersecurity as the biggest threat to organisational growth with slightly over half (51 per cent) of CEOs in the same sector believing that becoming a victim of a cyber attack is now a case of ‘when’, not ‘if’.
In the same vein, 66 per cent believe that a robust cyber strategy is critical to generate trust with their key stakeholders. Interestingly, KPMG’s study found that over two thirds (63 per cent) of oil & gas CEOs believe their organisations are prepared for a future cyber attack.
Recent history suggests that oil & gas executives have good reason to be anxious. During an average month, a company like ExxonMobil blocks more than 64 million emails, 139 million internet access attempts and 133,000 other potentially malicious actions.
Unfortunately, sometimes those attempts slip through the crack such as the Shamoon wiper malware that was used in a hack that knocked 30,000 computers offline at oil giant Saudi Aramco in 2012.
In January 2015, a device used to monitor fuel levels at petrol stations across the United States was remotely accessed by online attackers and manipulated to cause alerts and even set to shut down the flow of fuel.
According to Datuk Johan Idris, Managing Partner of KPMG in Malaysia, the weight attached to the cybersecurity agenda is a positive indication that CEOs in the sector are serious about ensuring business resilience.
“Business leaders must remain vigilant and avoid complacency when it comes to governance in cyberspace.
“We operate in a digital world today where breaches can happen anytime. Complacency will only increase the risks across the business, with lasting impacts not just to the company’s financial performance but also to their reputation. Ultimately, smart leaders are those who are making cyber preparedness a board priority, stress-testing the resilience of their systems and people to withstand an attack,” said Johan Idris.
The threat of cyber attack is followed by the risks caused by environmental and climate change, disruptive technology, territorialism, and operations. With only a small margin between each of the risks identified, it can be deduced that CEOs are focused on building the organisational resilience needed to master disruption and maintain growth momentum.
Threats to growth ranked by CEOs in the oil & gas sector
Return to territorialism
Threats aside, the survey reported that a high percentage (86 per cent) of CEOs expected the industry to grow with over half (55 per cent) projecting top-line revenue growth of up to two per cent over the next three years, while an optimistic 39 per cent predicted that their revenue will grow between two to five per cent.