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Almost everyone faced an industrial attack in the last year

Almost everyone faced an industrial attack in the last year

Major attacks on industrial systems are on the rise, yet security efforts to protect these systems continue to lag behind.

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Credit: Dreamstime

A report commissioned by cloud security company Barracuda found that 94 per cent of respondents have experienced some form of attack on their industrial IoT (IIoT) or operational technology (OT) systems during the last 12 months.

The State of Industrial Security in 2022 report surveyed 800 senior IT and security officers responsible for these industrial systems.

“In the current threat landscape, critical infrastructure is an attractive target for cybercriminals, but unfortunately IIoT/OT security projects often take a backseat to other security initiatives or fail due to cost or complexity, leaving organisations at risk,” said Tim Jefferson, senior vice president for data protection, network, and application security at Barracuda said in a statement accompanying the report.

Geopolitical tension on the rise

Recent attacks such as those targeted through the SolarWinds attack, and the Russian DDoS attack on Lithuania last month, have raised concerns over nation state-backed attacks on industrial systems. As a result, the survey found that 89 per cent of the respondents are very or fairly concerned about the current geopolitical situation.

Constellation Research analyst Liz Miller acknowledged that “the Russian invasion of Ukraine set the world on high alert as it anticipated vulnerabilities in IIoT devices becoming prime targets should the battle enter the cyber space.”

Manufacturing and healthcare industries lag behind

The report noted that 93 per cent of respondents admitted that their organisation had failed in their IIoT/OT security projects, with a lack of skills and tools often blamed. Furthermore, only 18 per cent of companies surveyed restrict network access and enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA), leaving networks open to attacks.

Around half of respondents believe that their organisation can handle applying security updates themselves, leaving many needing external help. The report notes that the worst hit organisations tend to be those that rely on manual updates and don’t have access to automation tools.

Manufacturing and healthcare were identified as the least prepared industries, with only 24 per cent and 17 per cent respectively able to complete their security projects.

“Healthcare has been put through the wringer these past two years with the global pandemic making medical infrastructure and critical systems ripe targets for attackers,” Miller said. 

“Most healthcare CISOs and CIOs I speak with are exhausted and are pushing through with budgets that seem large but aren’t what they need to accelerate projects and are facing skills shortages to maintain networks, let alone advance projects.”


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