Energy Cybersecurity: Held for Ransom

Energy companies, starved of resources from downturns, are increasingly susceptible to cyberattacks, introducing complications to transactions.

(Illustration by Robert D. Avila / Oil and Gas Investor)

[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the January 2022 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine.]

Last December, a hacker known as Robotnik went shopping for some malicious code, finally choosing a ransomware program called Sodinokibi, like a customer checking out at a Best Buy for bad guys.

An advertisement for Sodinokibi offered the hacker a cut of up to 70% of the illicit gains from the program. On Dec. 14, the hacker cordially wrote to the advertiser in Russian: “Hello, this is Robotnik. I want to return to work,” according to a federal indictment unsealed in January. The eventual ransomware attack, as described by the FBI, extorted thousands of businesses by encrypting their data and demanding millions of dollars to unlock it. The attack shut down businesses, crippled cash registers in Sweden, local government computers in Texas and affected the software company Kaesya.

The proliferation of ransomware and other cyberattacks against such a variety of targets might suggest businesses share an equal risk. Each day about 2,000 new attacks are launched, according to 2020 FBI statistics.

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Darren Barbee

Darren Barbee is senior editor for Oil and Gas Investor magazine.