IT & OT Cybersecurity Threats That Companies Should Know Of
While the continuous adoption of new IT and OT technologies for business certainly brings improved productivity, it also introduces new security risks. As cybercrime increasingly becomes professionalised, so too do cyber threats rapidly become more sophisticated, subtle, and numerous. Furthermore, hackers relentlessly refine their techniques and develop new workarounds against today’s most advanced cybersecurity solutions.
These factors combined create a cyber threat landscape wherein organisations face unprecedented and more dangerous threats than ever before. To put this into perspective, the number of cyberattacks rose in 2022 by 38 per cent over the previous year.
However, not all cyber threats are made equal; some stand the test of time, while others come and go from year to year. For 2023, businesses should be prepared to face the following critical cybersecurity challenges.
Zero-day vulnerabilities in supply chains
Zero-day vulnerabilities, previously unknown software vulnerabilities overlooked by the vendor of the target software, pose a temporary yet significant risk to corporate cybersecurity. Until these vulnerabilities are patched out or even discovered in the first place, hackers can freely exploit them to adversely affect computers, programs, data, and even entire networks. But even when a patch is made available, some companies do not immediately install them for various reasons.
One area where zero-day attacks are concerning is in the software supply chain. It is increasingly common for companies to lack total visibility over their applications’ third-party, open-source code. Should these external libraries have unpatched vulnerabilities, it is only a matter of time before cybercriminals exploit them. Moreover, vulnerable and widely used libraries create potential attack vectors against countless organisations.
Weaponisation of legitimate tools
Nowadays, there is a fine line between malware, legitimate system administration, and pen testing tools. Oftentimes, functionalities that hackers would build into their malware already come included in the operating systems of their targets or are available in legitimate security tools that will unlikely be seen as malware by detection tools.
Hackers have increasingly taken advantage of such opportunities in their attacks since they have a much lower chance of getting detected by leveraging legitimate tools and built-in features in their attacks. Furthermore, using existing solutions helps scale their attack campaigns and upgrade to more state-of-the-art hacking tools.
Ransomware is malicious software that blocks access to computer systems and data until a ransom is paid off. Since there are no guarantees that the hackers will fulfil their promise of returning access, there is a chance that victims may lose both their data and a huge sum of money if they are ever hit with ransomware. However, by following the best practices in making data backups, they could potentially mitigate the damage of a ransomware attack.
Hackers can also opt to launch double extortion attacks that include data theft on top of data encryption or just go with the former, making it a data breach attack. Ransomware data breaches are faster, harder to detect, and cannot always be resolved with data backups, making them a more lucrative attack for hackers.
Destructive malware or wipers
Although data breaches and ransomware are the most prevalent threats to an organisation’s data security, destructive malware and wipers can cause even greater negative impacts. This is because, as their name suggests, these types of malware delete the victim’s data entirely instead of being encrypted or held ransom.
Wipers have risen in popularity as of 2022, with multiple families of the malware being deployed against Ukraine, most likely by Russian threat actors as part of their ongoing conflict. Other countries like Albania and Iran have also suffered destructive cyberattacks of similar nature, which indicates its increasing popularity as a tool for cyberwarfare and hacktivism.
Third-party risk in the cloud
The adoption of cloud computing on the rise also brings more significant security implications to consider. Lack of familiarity with the best practices in cloud security, cloud shared security model, and various other factors can make cloud environments more vulnerable than on-site infrastructure.
Although hackers are increasingly targeting cloud infrastructures, a more concerning rising trend is their targeting of cloud service providers. Since these entities work with countless organisations, they are essentially a goldmine for valuable, sensitive customer data and even their individual clients’ IT infrastructure. Exploiting the trust relationships between businesses and their cloud service providers allows attackers to dramatically increase the impact and scale of their attacks.
Tips for Dealing With the Cybersecurity Challenges of 2023
Keep these considerations in mind when designing and upgrading your cybersecurity architecture to address the challenges above.
Many of today’s corporate cybersecurity strategies are detection-focused, a responsive approach that only deploys their security solutions and personnel once an ongoing threat is identified to mitigate or remediate its effects. This gives attackers a window to launch their attack before it is eventually addressed, which is enough of an opportunity to cause damage and entrench their foothold, making remediation more challenging and expensive.
Thus, it is better to focus on preventing these attacks from happening in the first place by identifying and blocking inbound them before they ever reach their target. The result is a complete avoidance of the potential threat, damage, and cost it may have incurred.
Since cyber threats evolve in combat increasingly effective cybersecurity solutions, companies cannot afford to lag in adapting the latter’s developments to better protect against advanced attacks.
However, implementing these capabilities through specialised yet standalone solutions can do more harm than good, making it more challenging to configure, monitor, and operate a cybersecurity infrastructure.
It is therefore recommended for organisations to leverage security consolidation instead. This entails deploying a single security platform with all the required security features to significantly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of a security architecture and its personnel, enhancing threat management capabilities.
The increasing complexity of corporate IT architectures provides hackers with countless potential avenues of attack. Remote work, the Internet of Things, and cloud computing are examples of new technologies that introduce new security risks and vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to gain unauthorised access. A robust cybersecurity posture means having comprehensive coverage and protection against as many potential attack vectors as possible.
A good first step towards this goal is adopting operational technology (OT) security that protects the various elements involved in daily operations in conjunction with conventional IT cybersecurity. One example of the many parts that make up OT security is one-way data diode in Singapore, such as ST Engineering Data Diode. This solution (also known as a one-way firewall) eliminates the risk of data leaks and external interference by using unidirectional transmission between an organisation’s physical networks connected to its own other networks or the external Internet.
The cyber threat landscape constantly evolves in response to IT/OT architecture changes and advancing security solutions. As such, managing corporate and industrial cybersecurity risk warrants deploying defences against known and unknown threats.
To better protect your manufacturing organisation, get in touch with us at Allied Solutions today and let our veteran team of experts help you find the tailored cybersecurity solutions that best meet your industrial needs. For more details about how our products, such as GE Proficy Historian and Parsec’s TrakSYS software, and services can enhance your business processes, drop us a message anytime.