Tag Archives: oil rig

Oil rigs are vulnerable to hacking

oil rigIt shouldn’t come as a huge surprise – after all, anything that uses networked computing is at risk without the proper precautions – but independent researchers have declared oil rigs to be extremely vulnerable to hacking attempts.

While oil companies have made huge improvements in offshore safety and environmental protection, their efforts to secure important data have been poor, the SINTEF team says.

The group says that the current “integrated operations” model, which uses onshore workers to control processes carried out on the platform via networked PCs, leaves communications open to attack.

According to Science Daily, the team interviewed “key personnel in the petroleum sector” to get a sense of the data protection measures currently in place. The interviewees confirmed “that the number of safety incidents on production systems (platforms) has risen during past few years.”

Researchers said that hackers have already made their presence felt on oil platforms.

The worst-case scenario, of course, is that a hacker will break in and take over control of the whole platform,” says SINTEF scientist, Martin Gilje Jaatun. “Luckily, this has not happened yet, but we have heard of a number of incidents that could have turned into something quite dramatic. For example, virus attacks have led to process electronic equipment becoming unstable.

Frankly I’m surprised there haven’t been any major incidents so far, but it’s safe to assume that the inevitable resurgence of oil prices (not to mention the increasingly politicised nature of the fossil fuel industry) will make unmanned rigs into highly appealing target for hackers interested in protest or profit. [image by ccgd]

In fact, the profit motive is probably the stronger of the two… profit, or the prospect of free fuel. Any terrorist group or pirate nation looking for a ready source of the black gold would find it easy enough to hire some disaffected code-kiddie, then pay (or threaten) them enough to get them to bypass the security on an unmanned rig and then fiddle the telemetry for long enough to allow a physical invasion of the platform. Hey presto – a big base in offshore waters with all the oil you could ask for, and a target that even a major government is going to think twice about simply bombing to smithereens

Oil-rig hotels could become Dubai on the high seas

If you found the recent post on seasteading a bit intriguing, but decided that either it looked too spartan for you or that you didn’t fancy turning your back on solid ground forever, you may be in luck. An LA-based architectural outfit has come up with a prize-winning design concept that sees decommissioned oil-rigs turned into luxury hotels, complete with prefabbed rooms that can be sailed out as a package the size of a standard shipping container.

oil-rig hotel conversion concept

As Morris Architects points out, the Gulf of Mexico alone has over 4,000 oil rigs that are destined for decommissioning over the next century – so why not make them into luxury resorts?

But as Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG notes, that’s rather like the thinking behind Dubai… and look how that’s working out right now:

… if the real Dubai is any model for what might actually happen with such a resort, then we’ll probably see dozens of oil rigs partially converted to luxury hotels only then to be abandoned by their construction crews and investors. As the lands of southern Louisiana continue to disappear into the Gulf, heavily armed refugees on fishing boats will move out to sea, recolonizing the derelict structures. There will be campfires at night, burning driftwood, and speciality gardens.

4,000 of the things, just sat out there rusting away in the Gulf. You could get yourself an entire anarchic archipelago out of that little lot. [image borrowed from Morris Architects]