In the latest Baker Institute policy report, Information Technology Policy Program researchers investigate how energy companies -- both those involved in the production and delivery of hydrocarbons, as well as those that generate and transmit electricity -- are facing new risks posed by malicious software ("malware"). The report, titled "Cybersecurity Issues and Policy Options for the U.S. Energy Industry," considers both the vulnerability of energy company computerized operations as well as the problem of controlling access to proprietary corporate information and data.

"The issues of cyberespionage and true cyberattacks -- the ability to achieve kinetic outcomes by manipulation of computer systems -- represent significant challenges for the energy industry, the United States government and the international community," said information technology policy fellow Christopher Bronk, Ph.D., who co-authored the paper with Rice University graduate student Adam Pridgen. "Constructing institutions to cope with these problems and move beyond a reactive posture will require greater research investment, collaboration and unorthodox combinations of expertise from within the computing field and beyond it."