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Ryan Foster
Ryan Foster

Digital capabilities are increasingly vital for every industry, but few are facing such far-reaching shifts as the energy sector. With ambitious net-zero targets, new technologies, and extensive changes to business models, energy companies are undergoing serious transformations. Understandably, they want as much data as they can get.

The data protection state of play in the energy sector

With active monitoring, IoT-connected equipment, machine learning, and "smart" tech, data itself isn’t in short supply—honestly, it’s often the opposite. But as long as you can process it and effectively analyze it, more data generally means more value. 

Of course, nothing is ever quite so simple. As data becomes more valuable to you, it also becomes more valuable to others. This value leads to greater exposure to digital threats from malicious actors, as well as the potential damage posed by other forms of digital disruption or data breach.

When you manage operational data, troves of customer and employee details, and trade secrets—in addition to interfacing with numerous business partners and vendors—having a tight grip on the confidentiality, integrity, and access parameters of your data is a clear priority. Unfortunately, effective data protection protocols are often left behind in the rush to innovate.

According to KPMG, “Power and utilities CIOs rank security and privacy as their top investment priority.”

Data breaches and you

The first thing you need to know about data breaches is that it’s not a matter of if, but when. The complex, digital, and interconnected nature of energy operations means that some level of incident is inevitable. But that doesn’t mean things are out of your hands.

To the contrary, there’s a lot of room to improve. According to IBM, it took a shocking average of 287 days to identify and close a data breach in 2021. And in the energy sector, the average cost of those breaches was $4.24M. Financially and reputationally, they represent a serious and growing threat.

Considering the potential loss of person hours and intellectual property, as well as compliance implications, the value of getting it right can’t be overstated. Fortunately, the quantity, severity, and speed of discovery of data breaches are all variables that are possible to control with well-implemented data protection solutions.

According to a 2021 PwC report, “Cloud security, data trust, access management, operational technology, and advanced security monitoring are the top five security priorities for energy sector.”

From ransom to recovery

Digital threats never stand still. Malicious actors have grown more sophisticated in their techniques, and it is becoming more and more difficult for companies to detect and recover from these activities.

This difficulty is also reflected by the nature and targeting of ransomware attacks, which are no longer limited to IT networks. McKinsey has reported the use of ransomware to disrupt visibility into pipeline operations, causing a loss of productivity and revenue until the ransomware was removed.

Because many energy businesses are integral to a nation’s critical infrastructure, they make appealing targets for ransomware operators. Disruptions to these businesses can be very costly.

According to the World Economic Forum, 2022 Ransomware attacks on energy companies rose 150% in 2021, and traditional defenses are becoming less effective in preventing them.

Businesses in the energy sector should be looking to invest in more advanced prevention techniques. They should also be organizing continuity plans and fail-safes in the event of ransomware attacks through effective backup and data recovery systems.

Fortunately, data protection technology is maturing. The cloud is a major area of innovation in data backup. Rather than relying on data centers, which are often expensive and potentially vulnerable, cloud solutions can offer equal or higher levels of security at lower cost and on demand.

Threat detection and prevention

Effective data analysis can help you identify and head off critical threats like ransomware. The challenge is catching the indicators in time—and having the capability to do something about them. 

How NetApp can help

NetApp can build a zero-trust framework around your data with AI-based automatic data classification and anomaly detection that enable you to monitor and analyze data access patterns, so that you can pinpoint suspicious activities early and respond effectively.

Constant data availability

NetApp can provide you with an easy-to-use enterprise platform to securely coordinate and manage data protection across applications, databases, and file systems. We can deliver simple, efficient, and secure backup and restore capabilities for protection and long-term archiving of your data.

We offer proven NetApp® replication technology with complete automation and orchestration to make sure that your data is efficiently backed up. Data can be easily restored at any time and anywhere, helping you to achieve business continuity and minimizing potential loss of sensitive data.

Ready to energize your data protection?

Contact me to discuss more. 

Ryan Foster

I am a global technology strategist, specializing in the energy industry. I help businesses manage their digital transformations and advise on solutions for sector-specific data management, mobility, availability, protection, and optimization challenges—from exploration to refining to retail.

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