Key industrial cybersecurity officials from government and private industry have gathered in Houston to review new ways of tackling the growing threat of cyber attacks in the energy sector.

Leo Simonovich, Vice President and Global Head of Industrial Cyber and Digital Security at Siemens said digital technology and the cyber world in general were evolving too fast for government and private industry to fully keep pace.

Leo Simonovich, Vice President and Global Head, Industrial Cyber and Digital Security at Siemens

Companies must take the lead, he said, “and data analytics are the key.” Armed with these tools, companies can “own their environment” by significantly improving detection when an operation system is being attacked and implement effective risk mitigation efforts.

“Context and speed,” according to Simonovich, are the two necessary ingredients needed to identify and thwart a cyberattack.

The ‘Using the Power of Analytics to Address Cyber Security’ was a half-day workshop sponsored by the International Society of Automation (ISA) and its industrial cybersecurity partner Siemens.

During the workshop, featured experts reported that the rapid pace of digital technology and the increasing sophistication of cyber tools at the disposal of foreign entities are making it more difficult to protect critical infrastructure and the industrial control systems that operate them.

However, they said advances in security analytics and machine learning are improving detection and threat assessment, and enabling more proactive and responsive defense measures.

Owners and operators of energy infrastructure also are recognizing the real threats to their businesses that cyberattacks pose and are more willing to invest in cybersecurity solutions—such as best-practice standards and in-house or outsourced security operations—and hire a qualified cybersecurity workforce.