There are multiple motivations for which anyone can become a cyber threat: cybercrime, cyberterrorism, cyberespionage, or cyberwarfare. 

In recent months, there has been a significant increase in the number of attacks, with a substantial change in the objectives: especially those aimed at industrial infrastructures are growing. 

In particular, and with extraordinary virulence, they have affected sectors such as energy, water, steel, oil, and automobiles.

A successful attack on an industrial infrastructure can affect the availability or malfunction of industrial processes. It can cause unplanned downtime that, depending on its duration and affected methods, would seriously jeopardize the very continuity of the business.

Francisco Valencia, CEO of Secure IT, points out that the factors that generate most security problems, both in information and in industrial systems, are fundamentally three:

  • The lack of asset valuation
  • The lack of communication between departments
  • Poor user training and awareness

In addition, he points out: “ Ransomware in the industry has multiplied by 10 in a year and the consequences for companies can be catastrophic ”.

The numbers speak for themselves: The average cost of a cyber attack is 2 million euros; if we talk about industrial environments, this figure rises to 10. The interoperability between IT and OT, the explosion of devices associated with industry 4.0, or the lack of application of security criteria during their deployment causes the existence of failures of cybersecurity that cybercriminals can exploit.

The forecasts do not point to an improvement in this scenario and show a line that follows the same current trend: three out of four companies will suffer an attack that will affect their industrial production environment. 

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Added to this is that almost a third of industrial organizations have experienced at least one security incident in the last year. Half do not have an incident response plan in the OT environment.

The challenges in industrial environments are complex, and this multiplies why it is necessary to promote cybersecurity in OT. 

In the first place, because there is generally no exhaustive knowledge of the elements connected to plant networks, so it will be difficult for us to be able to protect something whose existence is unknown. 

In addition, many industrial facilities have not been updated since they were put into production, considering that cybersecurity was not a requirement in design in those days.

Another of the most relevant aspects is that in the industry, there is no possibility of stopping, or the intervention windows are tiny since the continuity of production is prioritized. 

Another relevant risk factor is remote access, support, Tele assistance, and interventions carried out on-site by third parties. Usually, there is little control and rigor from a cybersecurity perspective. 

We find ourselves in a scenario of increasing cyber threats, an environment with legacy network architectures, a lack of knowledge of what is there, a lack of understanding of ICS protection, and, in many cases, a lack of means and resources. Therefore, the high level of risk is a determining factor in OT, says Hugo Llanos, director of the Industrial Cybersecurity area of ​​Secure&IT.

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