IChemE Urges Chemical Engineers to Combat Cybersecurity

April 5, 2023
A newly launched series of fact files provides practical explanations of how chemical engineers can help to manage ongoing cybersecurity risks.

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) recently launched a series of fact files to raise awareness of the importance of cybersecurity in the process industries and explain how chemical engineers can help to reduce this widespread risk.

Chemical engineers have process engineering expertise and an understanding of how a cybersecurity incident could impact a chemical plant. They are, therefore, ideally placed to support IT departments in strengthening processes and planning responses to improve organizations’ resilience and minimize the risk of a cybersecurity incident, says IChemE in a recent press release.

“I call on chemical engineers to be proactive, to undertake cybersecurity training and include cybersecurity when developing processes to manage risks. I would also encourage them to implement processes which deliver the most effective response should the worst happen. Companies are taking cybersecurity seriously, and so should our profession,” says Helen Kilbride, chair of IChemE’s Digitalization Technical Advisory Group (DigiTAG).

Historically, the chemical sector lags behind other industries when it comes to digitalization, but that trend is changing, according to a recent article in Chemical Processing. At the ARC Industrial Forum on Feb. 6, Executive Editor Jonathan Katz reported that cybersecurity experts stressed the need to balance cybersecurity with digitalization goals and develop a clear IT governance structure. In addition, increased IT/OT collaboration is critical. 

The fact files developed by DigiTAG aim to support this effort, providing practical explanations of how chemical engineers can help to manage this ongoing risk, and can be viewed on the IChemE website. The topics covered include cloud computing and cloud collaboration; remote access to IT and operating technology (OT) systems; cybersecurity incident response planning; data protection strategies and ‘defense in depth’; maintaining operational cybersecurity; cybersecurity education; and cybersecurity standards.

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