Dr. Amir Esmaeily

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project proposal Muhammad
Problem Statement

As already mentioned, the energy sector has proven incredibly vulnerable to cybersecurity threats in recent years. According to a study by Smith (2018), three main factors make the sector increasingly susceptible to cyber threats. First, the energy sector exhibits a unique interdependence between its physical and cyberinfrastructure, hence creating more opportunities for exploitation. Secondly, there has been an increase in the number of actors targeting utility organizations, ranging from nation-state actors who seek to cause political and economic instability to hackers who understand the economic value the sector represents. The final attribute making the energy sector particularly vulnerable to cybersecurity threats is that global utility companies are expansive with large attack surfaces that mostly arise from geographic and organizational complexities. At the same time, most of these energy organizations have decentralized cybersecurity leadership structures, making it challenging to coordinate effective security strategies. The DarkSide attack is an example of a recent malware attack targeting the energy sector. Specifically, it targeted Colonial Pipeline's billing system, a company responsible for supplying 45% of energy to America's East Coast. The significant disruptions caused by the DarkSide malware attack resulted in Colonial Pipeline paying an estimated $4.4 million in ransom, with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) later aiding in the recovery of a significant chunk of the money. The Colonial Pipeline attack, and others that have occurred in recent years, serve as a stark warning on the energy sector's vulnerability to cybersecurity threats. Against this backdrop, research must focus on understanding the impacts of malware attacks on global energy delivery systems and identifying comprehensive approaches energy companies can adopt to secure their systems and consumers.
Aims and Objectives of the Study

 To critically assess the nature of malware attacks
 To provide an overview of recent malware attacks targeting the global energy sector

Malware Threats to the Energy Sector
 To observe variations in the methods deployed by hackers during malware attacks
 To investigate the impacts of malware attacks on energy companies
 To determine how the energy sector can protect itself from malware attacks

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