Industrial companies face increased cyber threats

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A new study finds that 56 percent of IT and operational technology security professionals at industrial enterprises have seen an increase in cybersecurity threats since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

In addition, the research from Claroty, based on a global, independent survey of 1,100 full-time IT and OT security professionals, shows that 70 percent have seen cyber criminals using new tactics to target their organizations in this time frame.

Around two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) say that their IT and OT networks have become more interconnected since the pandemic began and more than 75 percent expect they will become even more interconnected as a result of it.

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While IT/OT convergence unlocks business value in terms of operations efficiency, performance, and quality of services, it can also be detrimental because threats -- both targeted and non-targeted -- can move freely between IT and OT environments. 66 percent have found co-operation between IT and OT more challenging, and 62 percent believe that their IT and OT networks are not equally secure.

In terms of industries the most vulnerable to attack are seen by respondents as pharmaceutical, oil and gas, electric utilities, manufacturing, and building management systems.

"While we would be short-sighted to think that we won't have more challenges as we continue to face unknowns from this pandemic, protecting critical infrastructure is especially important in a time of crisis," says Yaniv Vardi, CEO of Claroty. "As large enterprises are trying to improve their productivity by connecting more OT and IoT devices and remotely accessing their industrial networks, they are also increasing their exposure as a result. OT security needs to be brought to the fore and made a priority for all organizations. Attackers know that IT networks are covered with cyber security solutions so they’re moving to exploit vulnerabilities in OT to gain access to enterprise networks. Not protecting OT is like protecting a house with state-of-the-art security and alarm systems, but then leaving the front door open."

The full report is available from the Claroty site.

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