EL PETRÓLEO, EN EL PUNTO DE MIRA DE LOS 'HACKERS'

Este muy buen reportaje lo lei en la revista Foreign Policy en español tiene una buena combinación entre al geopolitica y las nuevas tecnologias y ver la amenaza constante que existe en la red y que esto no es un tema solo de peliculas.

 

Las plataformas petrolíferas marinas dependen cada vez más de ordenadores y se manejan por control remoto. Eso puede hacerlas vulnerables a ataques de piratas informáticos de todo el mundo.


Hace unos meses, un contratista de 28 años de California fue declarado culpable por un tribunal federal de EE UU de sabotear los controles informatizados de una plataforma petrolífera, presuntamente para vengarse de que no le hubieran dado un trabajo fijo. La acusación dice que éste se introdujo en una red de comunicaciones entre la costa y la instalación que, entre otras funciones, detectaba las fugas de petróleo. Causó daños por valor de miles de euros, aunque afortunadamente ninguna fuga.

Un equipo investigador del Grupo SINTEF, un think tank noruego independiente, ha advertido recientemente a las compañías de que las plataformas de extracción marina se están volviendo especialmente vulnerables a la piratería informática, ya que están convirtiéndose en instalaciones robotizadas y sin intervención humana, en las que las operaciones fundamentales -desde la transmisión de datos hasta la extracción, pasando por elaborados sistemas de navegación que mantienen la posición sobre el pozo- se controlan a través de enlaces sin hilos desde centros en la costa.


En la actualidad, la mayor parte de los descubrimientos de nuevos yacimientos se produce, como en las costas de Brasil y Nigeria, en aguas profundas. El trabajo en las enormes plataformas de metal que se elevan a cientos de metros sobre el nivel del mar es muy peligroso para los operarios, y los costes de mano de obra especializada, por no hablar de la alimentación, los cuidados sanitarios y las flotas de helicópteros y embarcaciones preparadas para evacuar a los equipos en caso de incendios o huracanes, son gigantescos para las compañías de este sector; de ahí que se hayan empezado a utilizar robots.El peligro habitual es el que representan las incursiones por mar; los comandos de la marina real británica se entrenan para el rescate de rehenes en las plataformas del mar del Norte. Pero ahora, según el investigador de SINTEF Martin Gilje Jaatun, que muchas de ellas son robotizadas, alguien que organice unciberataque desde un ordenador en cualquier parte del mundo puede intentar hacerse con el control de una o de un grupo de ellas a base de interferir en las “operaciones integradas” que enlazan las redes informáticas de tierra firme con las marinas. “Lo peor que puede pasar, por supuesto, es que un hacker se introduzca y se haga con el control de toda la plataforma”, dice Jaatun. Eso no ha ocurrido todavía, pero los virus informáticos han causado heridas al personal y han provocado pérdidas de producción en las del mar del Norte, añade.

Aunque las plataformas más modernas, que cuestan más de mil millones de dólares cada una, están equipadas con robótica de última generación, el software que controla las funciones básicas no es tan nuevo. En general, utilizan el programa de supervisión, control y adquisición de datos (SCADA), que es ya de hace varias décadas, de una era en la que la etiqueta código abierto era más importante que la seguridad, explica Jeff Vail, antiguo analista de antiterrorismo e inteligencia en el Departamento de Interior de EE UU. “No se valora bastante lo vulnerables que son estos sistemas”, dice. “Si uno los conoce bien, es posible causar un daño catastrófico haciendo que fallen los sistemas de seguridad”.

En la lista de posibles piratas informáticos figuran militantes ecologistas que pretenden aumentar los costes de producción de las compañías, extorsionistas que quieren sacarles dinero y gobiernos de Estados envueltos en una lucha estratégica por unas reservas de crusdo cada vez más escasas, dice Vail. Un grupo rebelde, como el Movimiento para la Emancipación del Delta del Níger, en guerra contra las empresas de este sector que operan en las aguas del país, puede contratar a hackersmercenarios para que lleven a cabo ataques en toda regla contra las plataformas del delta. A pesar de las evidentes vulnerabilidades de las redes, las compañías no consideran prioritaria la seguridad, dice Jaatun, y eso “hace que muchos

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