Ransomware Attacks on Operational Technology Are Increasing: What Your Organization Needs to Know

When machines don’t communicate well — well, there’s a problem.

Operational Technology (OT) is responsible for connecting, monitoring, managing, and securing an organization’s industrial operations. This technology is critical when your business depends on industrial control systems (ICS), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and computer numerical control (CNC).

While your email (Information Technology or IT) could get hacked, your business could suffer an even greater disruption through an OT hack. Could your organization handle the loss of IoT devices, lighting or humidity controls, pipe/fluid flow, energy delivery or charging, medical devices, ATMs, or chemical management, mixing and compounding equipment?

If not, be aware of this: OT attacks by ransomware gangs are on the rise. One cybersecurity company tracked 28% more groups targeting OT compared to the previous year and saw a 50% increase in ransomware attacks against industrial companies. Last year, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an alert after ransomware attackers exploited Unitronics PLCs used in the water and wastewater treatment sector. That alert came days after a reported attack against a public water utility in Pennsylvania.

If you’re concerned about your organization’s preparedness for an attack on your OT, here’s how we can help.

Secure Your Critical Infrastructure

Penetration testing your machine environment plays a crucial role in ensuring your OT security. This type of testing is a bit slower, more deliberate, and potentially can be performed in concert with an organization’s team. Before considering a penetration test, however, industrial companies should evaluate their current security measures, or engage an experienced vendor like Digital Silence to do so.

This assessment ensures that security tools are being used correctly; technology has all current updates; access to functions, ports, protocols, and services is appropriately limited; and information flow is properly controlled.

If a company hasn’t implemented an array of basic cybersecurity measures, penetrating its defenses is a given. Only after cybersecurity measures are properly implemented can a penetration test yield valuable, specific insights.

Identify New Vulnerabilities

The next step is penetration testing, which simulates real-world cyberattack scenarios by attempting to exploit security weaknesses within OT systems.

It’s vital to know the qualifications of the team handling your penetration test. You want an experienced cybersecurity expert with a thorough knowledge of hacking and of current threats. Take Digital Silence, for example. Our testers are leaders in the field, having presented research at major security conferences such as DEF CON, BlackHat, DerbyCon, SecTOR, GRRcon, and 44con.

Our experts know how malicious actors can exploit weaknesses across the breadth of your security system, such as by combining various conditions, even using your applications logic against you, to punch holes in your defenses. Our breadth of industry knowledge helps us tailor your defenses to your specific needs, helping guard against disruptions that can lead to costly outages, data breaches, and even physical damage.

Enhance Overall Security

By finding and fixing vulnerabilities through penetration testing, organizations not only reduce the risk of cyberattacks but also enhance the overall security of their operational technology. The report you receive at the end of a qualified penetration test identifies each specific attack path, breaking them down into steps and suggesting ways attacks could be countered.

If your mission-critical OT needs a cybersecurity review, please consider an experienced company like Digital Silence that offers risk assessments and unique penetration testing. We can provide valuable insights into the security posture of your critical infrastructure, helping safeguard your industrial digital assets and maintain uninterrupted operations. If you’re ready for a consultation, contact us today.

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