'Anonymous' Hackers to Target Oil Sands Companies
If you’re an oil company working in Canada’s oil sands, you’d better make sure your Internet security is robust, because international computer hacker group “Anonymous” has announced that any and all companies involved in oil sands activities are the next targets for massive data security breeches.
Anonymous has been working as a social justice organization attempting to expose what it believes to be criminal and/or socially and environmentally unjust business practices. The group just recently hacked industrial agriculture giant Monsanto, revealing the names, phone numbers, addresses and email addresses of 2,500 of the company’s employees and affiliates. The security breech was carried out in response to Monsanto’s attacks on organic and small-scale farmers, as well as the proliferation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The hackers plan to create a Wiki-style database with the information stolen to make it available to the general public.
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Anonymous has warned that companies such as ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., Imperial Oil and the Royal Bank of Scotland can expect similar treatment for their involvement in oil sands activities. The group’s intentions are being named “Operation Green Rights,” and support environmental activism.
Anonymous' press release video of Operation Green Rights
"We will, over the course of the next few days, use the powers we posses to spread news about this scenario and the corporations involved. We are actively seeking leaks to expose the corruption that we all KNOW is beneath this," the group wrote in a press release.
The group isn’t just attacking corporations, but is also targeting military, police and other law enforcement agencies. Anonymous plans to target U.S. government contractors this week according to a Twitter announcement made Sunday. On Monday, 90,000 military email addresses were stolen from servers owned by Booz Allen Hamilton.
So basically, if you’re an oil sands company or government contractor, be warned. Now may be the time to invest in some beefed up Internet security, otherwise you’ll likely fall victim to Anonymous. Whether or not the group’s activities are justified has yet to be seen. Obviously they are breaking the law; however, groups such as this and WikiLeaks are reigning in a new era of corporate and government transparency. In this age of globalization, transparency is vital to ensure the world’s masses understand and align with corporate and government activities, otherwise, a general sentiment of mistrust will prevail. Unfortunately, transparency hasn’t been a strong suit for many governments and corporations, and the people of the world are obviously getting fed up. Essentially, companies and governments are going to need to “keep their noses clean,” because in the digital era, it is far too easy for information to disseminate.
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.