McAfee Secures Critical Infrastructure for Large Oil Company’s Smart Oil Field

Oil producers worldwide are rapidly turning to more intelligent, digital technologies at all stages of production, from discovery through drilling, piping, storage, and delivery. Improvements in reservoir modeling and prediction, well performance, production monitoring, and other areas result in lower costs, improved safety, and increased productivity. However, with the benefits of smart oil fields come significantly increased security challenges for critical supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and industrial control systems (ICS). One large oil company in the Middle East has found a way to secure its critical infrastructure, and securely connect that infrastructure to its business infrastructure so that it can more confidently reap smart oil field benefits and avoid production downtime.

Smart Oil Fields Require Smart Security
"The avoidance of any kind of interruption in oil production is essential, not only for oil companies— which stand to lose millions of dollars each day— but for the world at large," says the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for this large oil company in the Middle East. "Any disruption in oil production ripples throughout the world, hurting local and global economies and resulting in a reduction in demand. Consequently, our main business goal is continuous, consistent production and stable prices. Our new smart oil field will help us meet this goal, but only if we can keep our critical infrastructure and business network safe from the quickly growing threat of APTs and other cyberattacks."

In the past, industrial control systems have not been secured against cyberattacks because they were never designed to connect to business systems and because patching and updating security software was simply too complex or too costly in terms of slowed or interrupted production. The latest ICSs are built on IT nature platforms and can share information with business systems for real-time data acquisition, monitoring, and integration with business systems such as ERP. Because of patching challenges and other circumstances, these systems are often much more susceptible to cyberthreats. Connecting the smart oil fields’ remote platform location ICSs to the company’s business network makes eminent sense for efficiency reasons, but the business network is connected to the outside world, greatly increasing risk of data loss or worse. "Continuously updating antivirus protection is simply not enough to protect the critical infrastructure," notes the CISO of this oil company. "We need total visibility and control at all times. Smart oil fields require smart security."

McAfee Succeeds in Meeting All Criteria for End-to-End Critical Infrastructure Security
To protect its smart oil field, this oil producer conducted an extensive study to determine which vendor could best meet its key requirements:

  • Robust, comprehensive security technology to protect critical infrastructure— including but not limited to host and network intrusion prevention systems (IPS), whitelisting, database activity monitoring, data loss prevention (DLP), and security information and event management (SIEM)
  • A reputation for and the ability to provide strong support
  • End-to-end integration of security technologies
  • A company roadmap that includes critical infrastructure security
  • Minimal or no impact on production availability and performance

According to the oil company's CISO, McAfee is the only vendor that met all of these criteria. "Dealing with one vendor is so much easier and cost effective, so we were very pleased to find one vendor who could do it all; in fact, McAfee is the only vendor that can." In addition, the oil company's current use of McAfee solutions and the McAfee ePO™ central console to protect aspects of its business network facilitates the connection of its critical infrastructure and business infrastructure.

The McAfee solutions being deployed to protect the oil company's critical infrastructure span the McAfee portfolio, from endpoint and data protection to network protection and governance, and include McAfee DeepSAFE™ technology that protects systems at the level of silicon. With help from McAfee Professional Services, the oil company is in the process of testing these solutions in its brownfields (oil fields that are already producing oil) before rolling them out to the first greenfield.

"Dealing with one vendor is so much easier and cost effective, so we were very pleased to find one vendor who could do it all; in fact, McAfee is the only vendor that can."

Chief Information Security Officer
Large Oil Company

Integration Strengthens Security Posture
All of these McAfee products play an important role in protecting the smart oil field's critical infrastructure, but the real value, according to this oil company's CISO, comes with integration. "A firewall by itself is important, but it is so much more useful when integrated with McAfee Network Security Platform and McAfee Risk Advisor," he declares. "That is when you can see what is really happening on your network."

The McAfee products and technologies highly relevant to critical infrastructures are all components of the Security Connected framework from McAfee and work in unison with the entire McAfee and partner product portfolio. This oil company is also integrating its McAfee solutions with its firewall to strengthen security even further. "With the McAfee platform and select integrations, we have an end-toend industrial cybersecurity solution that enables us to securely transfer data from remote drilling facilities to headquarter offices," reports the CISO.

Improved Situational Awareness Enables Faster Response and Compliance
The McAfee ePO central management console, integrated Security Connected platform, reputationbased McAfee Global Threat Intelligence®, and products that provide forensic intelligence and risk prioritization provide this oil company with near real-time visibility across enterprise IT, SCADA, and ICS zones. Such visibility accelerates the time to respond appropriately to suspicious activity. It also reduces the time needed to demonstrate compliance with regulatory mandates—an activity that is sure to grow in scope since regulatory mandates that apply to chemical and power generation facilities are expected to be extended to oil and gas facilities in the future.

Minimal Impact on Production Systems
Because they do not want to risk impacting production, many oil and gas companies refrain from using even antivirus protection. However, McAfee Vulnerability Manager and McAfee VirusScan Enterprise scans have minimal performance impact on this company’s ICSs. McAfee Application Control and McAfee Change Control also protect these systems with hardly any footprint or resource requirements and do not require frequent updating.

Setting the Example
As the first company to deploy end-to-end information security, including host intrusion prevention, whitelisting, network protection, and SIEM, the company is setting a new standard for cybersecurity within the global oil industry. "We firmly believe in the path we are taking and the ability of McAfee to provide the security we need," concludes the company's CISO. “By viewing cybersecurity as an enabler, the oil industry will benefit as a whole.”

Large Oil Company

Customer profile

A large oil company in the Middle East


Oil and gas

IT environment

Critical SCADA infrastructure residing in multiple remote plant locations connected with business network


Protect critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, securely connect industrial control systems with business network, and avoid any production downtime

McAfee solution

  • McAfee® ePolicy Orchestrator®
    (McAfee ePO™) software
  • McAfee Vulnerability Manager
  • McAfee VirusScan® Enterprise
  • McAfee Network Security Platform
  • McAfee Risk Advisor
  • McAfee Enterprise Security Manager
  • McAfee Database Activity Monitoring
  • McAfee Application Control and McAfee Change Control
  • McAfee Network Threat Behavior Analysis
  • McAfee Firewall Enterprise
  • McAfee Host Data Loss Prevention and McAfee Network DLP
  • McAfee Host Intrusion Prevention
  • McAfee Total Protection™ for Data
  • McAfee Deep Defender


  • Secures both critical and business infrastructures and securely
    transfers data between them
  • Saves millions of dollars by preventing production disruptions
  • Provides the benefits of digital/smart oil drilling with confidence