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Cybersecurity OT: Defined, Explained, and Explored

Today, industrial companies face a plethora of cyber risk attacks, and we can say that the vulnerabilities cannot be fixed with essential malware protection and email security software. We can note that as industries embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) and more connected devices, the more vulnerable they become towards cyberattacks.

In 2020, the industrial sector was the second most popular target for hackers after the government sector. According to an analysis by Positive Technologies, 12 percent of attacks were aimed at industrial companies. The year also saw that hackers were motivated mainly by data theft (84% of cases), while economic gain was the aim of 36 percent of criminals.

For example, a manufactured accident at a hydroelectric power plant can leave an entire country without electricity, as happened in Venezuela, where the nationwide blackouts lasted for a full five days.

The consequences of cyberattacks can be:

Halting operations. Owing to a ransomware attack on the corporate network of automaker Honda, the company had to stop production at various plants for a full day.

Interruption of technological processes. This year witnessed a big attack in May 2021, Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. fuel supplier, experienced a ransomware attack. The week-long downtime of the organization’s computer systems directed to a shutdown of half of the company’s gas stations in various south-eastern states, a rise in wholesale gasoline prices, and soaring demand for fuel. In 2020, attackers tried to strike water supply and purification systems in Israel. But they shifted their focus and in February 2021, a hacker managed to gain access to the water treatment systems in a small U.S. city and alter the chemical composition of the water.

Severance of business processes. In February 2020, due to a hacker attack, Croatian oil company INA could not distribute invoices, register loyalty card use, provide new mobile vouchers, and empower customers to pay gas utility bills. The hacker used Clop ransomware, which encrypted data on the company’s internal servers, disrupting business processes.

Hence, we can say that with the growing creativity of attacks, it’s impossible to protect these with agents or other software on-board, while the risk to be penetrated is very high. The only protection possible is agentless.

Moving ahead we can say that the industrial equipment industry must focus on few key cybersecurity pillars to support continued innovation.

1. The thin line between dividing systems. It has been noticed that the IT and OT (Operational Technology) systems are usually considered separate entities. This gives attackers the path towards disrupting critical systems and moving advanced ransomware attacks swiftly through the system. The companies need to adopt a wholesome view of all vital systems and security technologies and maintain the system accordingly. Remember that the companies are only as secure as their most vulnerable Industrial Control System or older piece of equipment.

Airgap helps implement comprehensive Zero Trust in minutes without the need for agents, APIs, or forklift upgrades. The patent-pending Zero Trust Isolation platform assures threat propagation protection. Airgap’s solution can be deployed in minutes, not months.

2. Cybersecurity should be a central component of any organization. Cybersecurity is business security. Cyberattacks can have destructive financial, legal, and reputational outcomes, meaning any industrial board of directors not actively addressing cybersecurity risks falling behind the curve.

Airgap prevents any lateral scanning attempt. If under Zero Trust, an intruder breaches the perimeter controls, compromises a misconfiguration, or bribes an insider, they will have extremely restricted access to sensitive data, and safety measures would be in place to identify and respond to suspicious data access before it becomes a threat.

3. Imbed cybersecurity in operations. Companies should concentrate on securing their internal operations primarily, considering the increasing number of threat vectors affecting machinery and equipment (both software and hardware). Isolation and micro-segmentation on a per-device level are the only efficient way to imbed security in operations, since no agents can be installed in many systems

Airgap’s Zero Trust Isolation technology blocks all unauthorized movement within the corporate environment, from either managed or unmanaged devices.

4. Making use of cybersecurity. There are numerous organizations today that still do not understand the importance of cybersecurity. There is no escaping the cyberattacks, and the companies should not take it lightly, assuming that the same will not hit them unless the damage is done. Every organization has to be proactive today when it comes to cybersecurity. Being proactive will not only help companies to surge ahead in competition but also will make them prepared for any future attacks.

As IoT and Industry 4.0 become the norm in industrials settings, businesses will be exposed to more and more latent vulnerabilities. By presuming cybersecurity’s role as a core value-add for all products and services and apprehending the upside in combining the advantages of a solid cyber position to partners, corporations can relieve risks and enhance their chances of competitive success.