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Energy & Infrastructure

Cybersecurity is Critical to Protecting Nation’s Pipelines

Staff Reports

Protecting the nation’s pipelines against cybersecurity threats is a critical focus for infrastructure companies like Williams.

Pipeline infrastructure is a key enabler of economic and national security, so it’s paramount to prevent any vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit, said Matt Bruner, manager of Cybersecurity Operations.

Matt Bruner, manager of cybersecurity operations

That’s why Williams is working with federal cyber response agencies, law enforcement, industry associations and third-party vendors to protect the integrity of our systems to ensure the reliable service that powers America.

Williams’ strategy also includes each of its 4,500 employees, who undergo regular training on how to recognize phishing attempts. Williams simulated phishing attacks to test employees and dramatically reduced the number of successful real-life phishing attacks.

“Phishing is the single most effective lever for an attacker to get into an organization,” Bruner said.

The focus on securing our systems is a daily effort in an attempt to get ahead of new forms of attack, Bruner said.

“We know for sure the United States is a target of nation states that want to affect critical infrastructure and do us harm,” he said. “There are large, almost mafia-like groups, that do nothing but hack people.”

Williams uses a strategic, risk-based approach to protect our facilities and technologies to ensure the operational security of our critical natural gas infrastructure network, including around-the-clock monitoring and threat detection by a dedicated team using the latest technology.

Additional measures at Williams include an industrial control systems cybersecurity program to protect, secure and make our technology-based operational assets available to meet business demands. We do this by leveraging the appropriate skill sets across departments, applying best practices and maintaining accountability to leadership. 

“The danger is multifold,” Bruner said. “First and foremost, the world has become more reliant on technology to facilitate safe operations. But with that comes complexity, adding possibly trillions of lines of programming code.”

Bruner said support from Williams executive officers has been key to fortifying our systems and alerting employees to cyber dangers.