Oil and gas companies, including some of the most celebrated industry names in Texas, are facing increasingly sophisticated hackers seeking to steal trade secrets and disrupt operations, according to an investigation by the Houston Chronicle and reported by the Associated Press. As the “Internet of Things” (IoT) comes into corporate and public awareness, this story about oilfield security serves as a cautionary tale for food company executives. Homeland Security, which is responsible for protecting the nation from cybercrime, received reports of some 350 incidents at energy companies from 2011 to 2015, the newspaper has found. Over that period, the agency found nearly 900 security flaws within U.S. energy companies, more than in any other industry. The vast network of oil and gas operations makes it difficult to secure, and the thousands of interconnected sensors and controls that run oil and gas facilities are riddled with weak spots. Many companies lack the technology and personnel to detect hackers. Equipment was designed decades ago without security features, and efforts over the years to link computer networks to devices that monitor pressure or control valves have exposed operations to online threats. Does any of that by chance sound familiar? READ MORE

Business IoT vulnerable to ransomware, experts warn: A recent warning issued by cyber experts says ransomware attacks on Internet of Things (IoT) devices are on the increase, and businesses especially are on the firing line, according to Computer Business Review. Attacks of this variety work by holding a device to ransom, preventing the user from being able to gain access to the device’s full use until a payment had been made to the hacker. This issue affects everyone, with smart devices spanning society and all demographics, but the risk posed to business is particularly concerning because they can often willing and able to pay a ransom when the business is threatened. Even more disturbing, professional expertise is no longer required to launch an attack—pre-packaged ransomware can be purchased on the Dark Web. Experts say everyone needs more extensive education on the current cyber-threat risks, and how best to evade them. READ MORE

PUBLIC HEALTH

Cheese and listeriosis: Food Poisoning Bulletin asks an interesting question: How many listeriosis outbreaks have been linked to cheeses? In the last five years, there have been six outbreaks linked to cheese products caused by this pathogenic bacteria. In five of the outbreaks, the cheeses were made from pasteurized milk, but were contaminated after that process. In the current outbreak involving Vulto Creamery, the cheeses were made from raw, or unpasteurized, milk. Most of these outbreaks are linked to soft cheeses. In themost recent outbreak, the CDC states that six people in four states were sickened with Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning after eating soft wash-rind raw milk cheese made by Vulto Creamery of Walton, NY. Two of the six patients died, and one baby was born with listeriosis. READ MORE