Though it is largely unseen, cybersecurity permeates most, if not all, aspects of fuel and petrochemical manufacturing, ensuring our industries can function efficiently and without disruption. Given how critical this technology is to our sectors, and how vital of our members’ work is to the daily lives of Americans, AFPM’s pioneering Cybersecurity Subcommittee collaborates closely with the government to share information and hold trainings to ensure that fuel and petrochemical facilities run smoothly day in and day out.

Critical Computing and the 24/7 Challenge

The computing systems at our facilities have both an IT component and an industrial control systems (ICS) component, similar to other manufacturers. The IT component is the business system enabling communication (like email and messaging), payroll, and the storage of data and intellectual property. The ICS component runs the machines that manufacture our products. There are usually many different ICS in a facility, and they run everything from HVAC to valves. 

Without these two systems, our industry could not function.

Unfortunately, there are those out there who wish to disrupt the manufacture of our products and cause chaos at refining and petrochemical facilities. The effort to keep these radicals from IT and ICS is a 24/7 effort. AFPM supports this effort through the AFPM Cybersecurity Subcommittee, which is comprised of close to 40 member companies, including both operating and vendor companies. This subcommittee, started in 2005, was one of the first such groups in the energy industry.

Dedicated to Advancing Cybersecurity

AFPM is a significant player in cybersecurity the federal, state and local levels, providing technical comments on cyber regulatory matters and advocating for legislation that meets the concerns of lawmakers, while not intruding on the private sector’s operations. Further, AFPM sits on the planning boards of the Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Joint Working Group and the independent Cyber Resiliency Energy Delivery Consortium. AFPM also sponsors the annual Department of Energy’s Cyberforce competition.

You can find members of the AFPM Cybersecurity Subcommittee at most major cybersecurity conventions, including RSA and Blackhat. The information they gain at those conferences and at AFPM conferences is used to keep the industry running effectively and safely.

Our industry has faith in the work of its cybersecurity employees. They keep the lights on, the files updated and the oil flowing. But you won’t find AFPM members drawing attention to their work in cybersecurity—they are not like that. They take quiet pride in knowing that their ongoing efforts keep the refining and petrochemical industries running and supplying the world with critical products.

Dan Strachan

Posted by Dan Strachan

Dan Strachan is the Director, Industrial Relations and Programs for AFPM. To learn more about AFPM, visit AFPM.org.