4 Common Threats to Your Operation Technology Infrastructure and How to Protect Against Them

Technology Networks

According to the State of Operation Technology and Cybersecurity report by Fortinet, 90% of organizations experienced at least one operational technology intrusion in the past year. Not only that, organizations that have experienced three or more intrusions in the past 12 months have jumped from 47% to 65%. This is a clear indication that attacks on operational technology and networks are on the rise.

Despite these alarming numbers, 44% of organizations fail to ensure compliance with industry regulations while 44% don’t even track compliance with security standards. Due to this, they become a soft target for attackers who can easily compromise their systems and penetrate into their networks to disrupt their businesses.

Thankfully, all hope is not lost. You can still prevent and block a wide range of common threats especially if you know about them. You can take steps that can help you mitigate the risk to a certain degree. In this article, Anti-Dos will highlight four common threats to your operation technology infrastructure and what you can do to protect your business from them.

4 Common Threats To Your Operation Technology Networks

Here are four common threats to your operational technology system you need to keep an eye on.

1.   Ransomware Attacks

One of the most common attack types which are targeting operational technology infrastructure is ransomware. According to IBM X-Force, one-third of all attacks targeting organizations with operational technology systems and networks are ransomware attacks.

Most people think that a ransomware attack can only target a portion of the network but what they don’t realize is that it can have long-term consequences for business operations. What’s more, the majority of these attacks (56%) targeted operational functionality and tried to disrupt business operations. What's even more interesting is the fact that the scope of these attacks is known.

This forced businesses to shut down their operational technology networks to minimize the damage but that badly disrupted the business operations. We saw that Colonial Pipeline incident. Businesses that did not shut down their networks run the risk of ransomware reaching other portions of the network and doing more damage at the cost of keeping their business operations afloat.

2.   Vulnerability Exploitation

Vulnerability exploitation is the main method cyber attackers use to gain unauthorized access to your organization's operation technology network/ In fact, almost 90% of all the attacks involve vulnerability exploitation. Citrix vulnerability is the most common vulnerability found in operational technology systems and is exploited by hackers the most.

The main reason for it is that it gives attackers access to critical servers and makes it easy for other threat actors to enter into your network. If your organization has not done anything yet to fix this vulnerability, it is high time to take steps to safeguard your business from it.

3.   Supply Chain Attacks

Another trend that is slowly but surely gaining momentum is supply chain attacks. Look at the list of some of the biggest cybersecurity attacks in 2021 and you will find that most of them are supply chain attacks. Whether it is SolarWinds or Kaseya, these attacks have shaken the world.

This literally means that you are not safe even if you have the best security systems in place. An attacker can compromise your vendor's system and use it as a ladder to gain access and target your network and systems. As a result, you should be extra cautious when choosing the right vendor or supplier for your business. You don’t want to be paying the price of someone else's mistake. Ask them what steps they take to secure your personal data.

4.   Zero-Day Attack

Another type of cybersecurity threat that is becoming more and more common is zero-day attacks. Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for vulnerability in new apps and software. As soon as they find a vulnerability, they try to exploit it. In a zero-day attack, a software provider releases the patch after the vulnerability has already been exploited by cyber attackers.

Since attackers know that launching a common cyber-attack won’t cut it before businesses have information regarding it, they usually look to launch a zero-day attack. Since businesses have little to no knowledge about these attacks, they don’t know what to do about them. As a result, cybersecurity attackers can easily compromise their systems and gain access to their critical personal data. The best way to protect yourself from zero-day attacks is to keep everything from the operating system, antivirus, apps, and software.

How To Protect Your Operation Technology Network?

Here are some of the steps you can take to safeguard your operation technology network.

1.   Keep Your Operations and IT Network Separate

The first thing you need to do is to break down your enterprise network into two parts. Use one for operations and another one for IT. This will help you ensure business continuity even when your IT network is compromised. You don’t want your entire network to go down at once. You can shut down your IT network if it comes under a ransomware attack as a precaution and your business operations will continue to function smoothly.

2.   Have an Incident Response Plan

Most businesses are in a state of shock when they come under a ransomware attack. One of the main reasons for this is that they don't have an incident response plan. They don’t know how to respond in such a situation. This gives attackers a free license to wreak havoc on your networks. With an incident response plan at your disposal, this won’t be the case. You know exactly what steps you need to take in order to mitigate the impact of the attack.

3.   Secure Administrator Accounts

Hackers usually target administrators or high privilege accounts because they know that it will help them do more damage. Your goal is to secure those accounts and keep a close eye on high privilege users. If you identify suspicious activity, take immediate action to reduce the damage.

Which is the biggest threat to your operation technology system? What steps do you take to protect yourself from it? Share it with us in the comments section below. 

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