The proliferation of cyber threats has become so great that earlier this year the Australian government issued the recommendation that organisations “urgently” adopt an enhanced cyber security posture.

“Many actors use common techniques such as exploiting internet-facing applications and spear phishing to compromise victim networks,” the advisory note states. “Organisations should ensure they have implemented mitigations against these common techniques and are prepared to detect and respond to cyber security incidents.”

Actually doing so is one of the greatest headaches that CIOs and CISOs have to grapple with, however. Over 80 per cent of businesses have had their security budgets increase in the past year, according to research by Accenture, and IT security budgets are now as much as 15 per cent of all IT spending. However, 81 per cent of IT leaders also state that this is unsustainable and that staying ahead of attackers is a constant battle of escalation.

Cyber security attacks are an inevitability that all businesses should now be prepared for. Rather than simply investing in technology, and hoping for the best, however, IT leaders need to be strategic and undertake risk management that best suits their business profile.

Understanding where the threats lie

The dominant theme of this year’s 2022 Security Exhibition & Conference (17-19 August) is the importance of having an innovative, technologically advanced and competitive industry that will meet the challenges of a new era in security.

What this means is that every company, and every sector, will be facing different security challenges, and a successful response will be down to how the IT security leaders interpret and tailor the response to their specific situation.

The event will feature a cross-section of keynote presentations at the conference with that in mind, as well as exhibitors on the floor that highlight solutions in action. From the impact that emerging technologies like AI, IoT and 5G will have on the security environment, to the blurring of the boundaries between physical security and cyber security, and the future of the built environment, the conference will delve into the implications of security across a broad range of different sectors. Other keynotes will focus on standards best practices and, specifically, how Australian organisations should be responding to global security challenges.

For CIOs and CISOs looking to think strategically about security, the focus of the event will be on practical and actionable insights. Keynotes will include use cases and case studies, with the emphasis being on what is being done now, set against the overall business objectives of the modern enterprise. There will also be a networking dinner gala, that will allow executives to trade thought leadership and make connections that will be critical to the sector-wide holistic approach to security moving forwards.

Security is still the art of following best practices

One good example of how the ASIAL Security Conference, within the Security Exhibition & Conference event, will address practical solutions to security challenges is the deep dive into digital transformation that will be the focus of one of the keynotes.

As noted in a report by PwC, an effective security response still typically involves getting the basic best practices right. It notes the government advice that “patching the holes” is a critically important step, but also notes that this isn’t necessarily as straightforward as it might first seem. “Businesses need to identify all Internet-facing devices in the organisation, ensure updates don’t break other processes, that a patch exists for specific software and configurations, and that they have the means to implement the update,” the report notes. “This scale of the problem can be overwhelming, so businesses should seek help if they have doubts.”

The same report also notes that another standard security best practice – adopting multi-factor authentication – can be difficult for CIOs to get over the line in enterprises because of the complexity that it can introduce to the environment. For these reasons, PwC recommends that CIOs lean on their consultants, partners and other resources to complement internal resources.

This is especially true given that a further headache that IT executives face is a severe cyber security skills shortage. Fortinet research shows that 64 per cent of A/NZ organisations agree that the skills shortage creates additional risks for their businesses.

Despite these challenges, CIOs can also not overlook the need to continue on their digital transformation journey. One of the keynotes at the ASIAL Security Conference – delivered by PwC’s Asia Pacific Chie Digital & Information Officer, Vishy Narayanan – will address this combination of challenges, highlighting the role that leaders play in these new IT environments, and the role that behavioural change, above and beyond any technology investment, plays in delivering transformation in a secure and sustainable manner.

Raw investment into technology is not a solution to the cyber security challenge that organisations face. Rather, CIOs and CISOs need to develop a strategic approach that views security as an enabler and facilitator of innovation, rather than a bottleneck.

For more information on the Security Exhibition & Conference or to purchase tickets to attend the ASIAL Security Conference, click here.

Data and Information Security

Cairn Oil & Gas is a major oil and gas exploration and production company in India. It currently contributes 25% to India’s domestic crude production (about 28.4 MMT) and is aiming to account for 50% of the total output. The company plans to spend ₹3,16,09 crores (₹31.6 billion) over the next three years to boost its production.

The oil and gas industry currently confronts three major challenges: huge price fluctuation with volatile commodity prices, capital-intensive processes and long lead times, and managing production decline.

Sandeep Gupta, chief digital and information officer at Cairn Oil & Gas, is using state-of-the-art technologies to overcome these challenges and achieve business goals. “We have adopted a value-focused approach to deploying technological solutions. We partner with multiple OEMs and service integrators to deploy highly scalable projects across the value chain,” he says.

Reducing operational costs with drones, AI, and edge computing

Sandeep Gupta, chief digital and information officer, Cairn Oil & Gas

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The oil and gas industry is facing huge price fluctuation due to volatile commodity prices and geopolitical conditions. In such a scenario, it becomes crucial for the business to manage costs.

Sustained oil production depends on uninterrupted power supply. However, managing transmission lines is a high-cost, resource-intensive task. For Cairn, it meant managing 250km of power lines spread across 3,111 square kilometers. They supply power to the company’s Mangala, Bhagyam, and Aishwarya oil fields and its Rageshwari gas fields in Rajasthan.

To reduce operational costs, the company decided to use drones. The images captured by the drones are run through an AI image-recognition system. The system analyses potential damage to power lines, predicts possible failure points, and suggests preventive measures, thereby driving data-driven decision-making instead of operator-based judgment.

“Algorithms such as convolutional neural networks were trained on images captured when the overhead powerlines are running in their ideal condition. The algorithm then compares the subsequent images that are taken at an interval of six months when any anomalies are captured. An observation is then put into portal for the maintenance team to take corrective and preventive action,” says Gupta.

This is a service-based contract between Cairn and the maintenance provider where the monitoring is carried out on biannual basis for 220kV power lines and annually for 500kV power lines.

“Since the implementation of drone-based inspection, the mean time between failure has increased from 92 to 182 days. This has reduced oil loss to 2,277 barrels per year, leading to cost savings worth approximately ₹12 crores [₹120 million]. As it enables employees to carry out maintenance activities in an effective manner, a small team can work more efficiently, and the manpower required reduces,” Gupta says.

The remote location of operations coupled with a massive volume of data (Cairn generates about 300GB data per day) that is generated make the oil and gas industry ideal for the use of edge-based devices for computing.

With smart edge devices, critical parameters are stored and processed at remote locations. The devices are installed in the field which send data via MQTT protocol where cellular network connectivity is available. They store data up to 250GB on the Microsoft Azure cloud and perform analytics using machine-learning algorithms, as well as provide intelligent alarms.

Without these devices, the data generated would be transported to faraway data centres, clogging the network bandwidth. “Edge computing helps reduce our IT infrastructure cost as lower bandwidth is sufficient to handle the large volume of data. These devices deployed are tracking critical operational parameters such as pressure, temperature, emissions, and flow rate. The opportunity cost of not having edge computing would result in requiring a higher bandwidth of network, which would amount to around 2X of the current network cost,” says Gupta. “This also has an implication on the health and safety risk of our personnel and equipment.”

Reducing lead times through a cloud-first strategy

The oil exploration process has a lead time of around three to five years and requires huge capital commitment. Out of these three to five years, a significant amount of time is taken up by petrotechnical experts (geologists, geophysicists, petroleum engineers, and reservoir engineers) in simulating models that require massive computational power.

Petrotechnical workflow entails evaluation of subsurface reservoir characteristics to identify the location for drilling the wells. These workflows are carried out by petrotechnical experts via multiple suites of software applications that can help identify the location and trajectory of wells to be drilled.

“Capital allocation and planning for future exploration has become riskier due to long lead times. To achieve our goals, increasing computing capabilities are essential. For this, we have adopted and executed a cloud-first strategy,” says Gupta. Thus, Cairn has completely migrated the workloads for petrotechnical workflows to the cloud. “This migration has removed the constraints of on-premises computational capabilities. As a result, there is almost 30% reduction in time to first oil,” he says.

Managing decline in production through predictive analytics

Cairn has considerable volume, variety, and velocity of data coming from different sources across production, exploration, and administration. “Using this data, we have deployed multiple large-scale projects, including predictive analytics, model predictive control, and reservoir management, which have been scaled across multiple sites,” says Gupta. Model predictive control (MPC) is a technology where the equipment is monitored for various operating parameters and is then operated in a particular range to get maximum efficiency, while maintaining the constraints in the system.

At the heart of this lies Disha, a business intelligence initiative that uses dashboards driving critical actionable insights. “The philosophy for developing Disha was to make the right data available to the right people at the right time. We wanted to remove file-based data sharing and reporting as significant time goes in creating these reports. We connected data from various sources such as SAP HANA, Historian, Microsoft SharePoint, Petrel, LIMS, and Microsoft Azure cloud onto a single Microsoft PowerBI ecosystem where customized reports can be created,” says Gupta.

Disha was developed in a hybrid mode with an in-house team and an analytics provider over the course of three years. It offers more than 200 customized dashboards, including a well-monitoring dashboard, a production-optimisation dashboard, a CEO and CCO dashboard, and a rig-scheduling dashboard.

“With data now easily and quickly accessible in an interactive format across the organisation, which was earlier restricted to a select few, the corrective actions for resource allocation are now based on the data,” Gupta says. “For instance, we leverage Disha to monitor the parameter and output of the electronic submersible pump, which handles oil and water. It helps us in tracking the gains achieved through MPC implementation. All this enables better decision-making and has helped to allocate resources in optimized manner, thus managing the decline in productivity.” Going forward, Cairn plans to partner with a few big analytics providers and build a single platform to help contextualize its data and deploy micro solutions, according to business needs. “This will be a low-code platform that will enable individual teams to build solutions on their own,” Gupta says. “The initiatives are oriented towards sustaining the production levels, while reducing time to first oil. Some of the initiatives include artificial lift system monitoring, well monitoring, and well-test validation,” says Gupta.

Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation

May 5, 2022

Source: Henrik Hulgaard, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer | Configit | Manufacturing Tomorrow

Today, everything from refrigerators to baby monitors to industrial appliances has software embedded. We live in a world of smart devices connected to the internet and that trend is quickly growing. Even products once solely thought of as mechanical are now “intelligent,” part of what’s known as the Internet of Things (IoT,) a market that’s expected to grow from $381 billion in 2021 to over $1.8 trillion by 2028, according to Fortune Business Insights

Software rules the world, and we’ve definitely seen this play out in the industrial world – today’s cars are computers on wheels, for instance. A typical modern car contains at least 100 million lines of code – and that continues to grow. This software-defined world is increasing complexity on all fronts, from the design and development process to product and sales. For manufacturing companies, there’s a whole set of new challenges – but fortunately, with the right understanding and the right tools, they aren’t insurmountable.

From manufacturing companies to software developers

Traditionally, manufacturing companies focused on physical products, but these days, so many of those products now have software embedded in them. That means these companies must also deal with software – which is a whole different animal. On the plus side, it’s easier to fix an issue with software than it is with hardware. The benefit of software is that it enables manufacturers to configure product operation and behavior after the product is deployed. This translates to a decrease in the number of physical variants that need to be made. 

In this era of high customer expectations, companies that can offer multiple options have the competitive advantage. However, that becomes a double-edged sword because it leads to customers demanding yet more customization and personalization options. More software also has increased complexity, not just in product development but also in product sales and service – and that requires a new approach.

Navigating the increased complexity

From a product standpoint, there’s a need for new types of configuration. It’s possible now to choose configuration options that create software-defined products. And all of these product configuration options must be designed and validated prior to deployment. 

For example, think about when you open your car door; the display shows a little image of your car door being open. Manufacturers use the same software, whether it’s a two-door or four-door model – it just needs to be configured differently, depending on the number of doors. To make sure the entire product works as desired, the product design and development processes for hardware and software need to move in sync. 

From a sales and product perspective, these teams need to know all the available product options, which makes it hard to know what’s doable. Customers expect to be able to customize their products, but they don’t automatically know whether the configurations they want are doable. Both groups can find out what’s possible using software-defined product configuration. This solution works for customers who are trying to configure their product choice with the help of a salesperson, and it works for customers going it alone on a website. 

Rethinking the approach with configuration lifecycle management 

Companies need to think beyond the point of sale in this environment of software-embedded products and their many configuration options. It can also be challenging to service software-defined products. In order to be serviced, available configuration options have to match the specific version. To address service issues, replacement options must be valid and need to be delivered promptly.

To manage the complexity challenges that software-defined products create, companies need the capability to govern what could be millions of product configuration options over the lifetime of the product. 

Manufacturing organizations, for instance, that deal with very complex and expensive machines need to know if the product they have is configured correctly to be able to handle a software upgrade, for example. And the company that provided that expensive machine needs to be able to know about the product they sold to that specific consumer. 

A solution that connects the different divisions – engineering/manufacturing, service, and sales – provides a single source of truth view to help connect these dots. Configuration lifecycle management (CLM) stewards product configuration options the whole time that product is available, including all its versions. The CLM solution receives updates in real-time to determine whether possible product configurations are available – including materials, pricing, components, sales terms, or other options.

Solving software-defined complexity

Now that everything is software-defined, companies have additional complexity to manage. Customers expect to have the option of configuring their own products, and if you can’t offer this, they’ll go somewhere else. Fortunately, CLM is designed to automate this otherwise difficult process and manage software-defined configuration without interfering with existing processes and systems. It makes collaboration easier, as well, which can result in more valuable and profitable product designs. CLM also helps address customer needs and wants, creating a business differentiator and competitive advantage.

About Henrik Hulgaard, CTO, Configit 

Henrik Hulgaard is the CTO and co-founder of Configit, the global leader in?Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) solutions?and a supplier of business-critical software for the configuration of complex products. He holds a doctorate in computer science from the University of Washington and is an associate professor of computer science. He has published more than 25 articles internationally.

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