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The Worst Enemy: Cyber-threats

Worried about IoT, but hit by malware: Kaspersky Lab reveals industrial organization constant struggle

Due to the interlinked nature of digitalisation and cybersecurity, 65% of industrial organisations believe that security breaches due to Industrial Control Systems (ICS) are more likely to occur due to the Internet of Things (IoT).

Kaspersky lab, however, has unearthed a crucial contradiction among the industrial community. Many organisations whilst keen to boost the efficiency of their industrial processes by investing in new IT that safeguards their IT networks, have devastatingly failed to protect their Operational Technology (OT). This therefore allows basic but devious threats such as ransomware and malware to attack their OT networks, These and other findings have been unveiled in Kaspersky Lab’s ‘State of Industrial Cybersecurity 2018’ report.

What Should be Chosen? Efficiency or Cybersecurity?

Industrial processes are now made more efficient due to advancing technology that is readily available and the extensive connectivity throughout the globe.

However, these trends bring dangerous, looming risks to organisations. This is because when organisations want to experience these advantages, they have to keep elements of their operations open. This makes them vulnerable to attacks. 77% of the surveyed companies believe that they are likely to become the target of a cybersecurity incident

Most organisations have a basic understanding of the risks that are associated with digitalization. Despite these risks, they are willing to jump on the bandwagon and make changes to their operations. However, they are still tragically failing to put the right cybersecurity safeguards in place and are leaving themselves extremely vulnerable to attacks on these operational and control networks. 48%of organisations have admitted that they have no measures in place to detect or monitor if they have suffered an attack concerning their industrial control networks.

Attacks on industrial control networks could have some serious implications on the organisation including, damaged products, a loss of customer confidence and business opportunities, a loss of production at one or multiple sites or even environmental damage. Amongst organisations who have been victims to at least one ICS cybersecurity incident over the past 12 months, 20% claimed that the financial damage to their business has increased. They have therefore realised that they not only need to pay more attention to the issue of cybersecurity but they also have to invest in more reliable safeguards.

Risk Perceptions VS Reality

The main issue according to the study is that despite being aware of cybersecurity issues and increasing their expenditure on cybersecurity, many industrial organisations are still falling victim to the cyberattacks.

This is due to several facts including the lack of awareness by employees.

Whilst organisations warn employees about big, targeted, mass-attacks, they fail to mention the more imminent threat of conventional attacks such as malware or ransomware attacks. The surveyed companies have reported that they have had their networks attacked conventionally due to the mistakes of their employees.

There is serious concern surrounding the overexaggerated and misplaced perceptions of the risks and dangers of targeted attacks. Companies relying on ICS are still falling victim to more conventional threats, including malware and ransomware due to their lack of awareness that mass attacks, while potent, is not as frequent an occurrence compared to conventional attacks.

Future Challenges

The adoption of Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud-based systems have created a new security dimension, which is proving to be a major hurdle for industrial businesses. The increased risks associated with connectivity and the integration of IoT ecosystems is a major cybersecurity issue for the year ahead for more than 54% of the surveyed companies.

When it comes to cloud deployment, 15% of industrial organisations already use cloud solutions for the Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA). The SCADA systems help in gathering and analysing data in real-time. A further 25% planning to implement it in the next 12 months.

With companies investing in further smart technologies and automation, and the adoption of industry 4.0, the trend for connectivity and IoT is only going to increase. It is therefore vital that cybersecurity measures keep up with the rate of technology adoption, to ensure that the rewards of digitalisation, outweigh the risks. Business need to consider ICS incident response systems with more seriousness, to avoid risking severe operational, financial and reputational damage. Only by developing a specific incident response program and using dedicated cybersecurity solutions can businesses keep their services and products, customers and the environment safe.

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