The energy industry must do more to protect itself from the unending threat of cyber attacks, former Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said on Thursday at a shale gas conference in Pittsburgh.
Hackers constantly seek to override companies’ industrial control systems and steal their corporate secrets, Ridge told more than 1,800 people at the Shale Insight 2014 conference.
Energy “has a way to go” to protect itself compared with other industries such as financial services, he said.
“The barbarians are no longer at the gates,” Ridge said. “They are inside, and they are exquisitely concealed.”
The Marcellus Shale Coalition sponsored the three-day conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. The conference featured technology exhibits, policy discussions and a presentation by Gov. Tom Corbett.
Ridge served as Pennsylvania governor from 1995 to 2001, and then as a homeland security adviser to the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks. He eventually headed the newly established Homeland Security Department from 2003 to 2005.
Later in the day, Ridge planned to appear at the Senator John Heinz History Center on behalf of a group called Our Energy Moment, which advocates for increased exports. Ridge said at the conference that he supports exports as a way to promote national security.
“I sure wish we had the capacity to be sending a lot more (liquefied natural gas) over to Western and Eastern Europe,” he said. “Russia doesn’t necessarily need a large army when it can turn the spigot off and on for some major countries over there that have to rely on it.”
Ridge answered an audience question by saying he expects Pennsylvania will eventually adopt a severance tax on natural gas. He avoided commenting on whether that’s a good idea or, if so, how much it should be.
His main message focused on cyber security concerns, noting that even the shale industry’s drilling equipment relies on computers. Think of all the opportunities to cause havoc among industrial control systems, Ridge told the audience.
“Are we sure that the bits and the bytes, and the 0s and 1s that run those systems are not compromised?” he asked.