91% of industrial organizations open to cyber attacks

New report finds it's easy for hackers to breach corporate infrastructure

Man in a yellow hard hat working on a computer

According to a Positive Technologies report, hackers can penetrate the corporate network at 91% of industrial organizations. 

The report’s authors said attack vectors for accessing critical systems can be simple, and the potential damage severe.

In 2020, the industrial sector was the second most popular target for hackers after the government sector. According to the firm’s analysis, 12% of all attacks targeted industrial companies.

The main threats for industrial companies are espionage and financial losses. In 2020, data theft motivated 84% of hackers, while financial gain was the aim of 36% of criminals.

The report found that once inside the internal network, attackers can steal user credentials and obtain full control over the infrastructure in 100% of cases. It also found that hackers can steal sensitive data, including information about partners and company employees, email correspondence, and internal documentation, at 69% of companies.

Not only that, but penetration testers accessed the industrial control system (ICS) networks at 75% of these companies. This allowed them to access actual industrial control systems in 56% of cases. The report said this showed that by accessing the ICS network, attackers could also access industrial process automation systems, which could lead to serious consequences ranging from work disruption to human casualties.

The report said the protection of the industrial sector requires modeling of critical systems to test their parameters, verify the feasibility of business risks, and detect security vulnerabilities. However, assessing the possibility of cyber incidents on real-world infrastructure is nearly impossible, according to the report’s authors.

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Olga Zinenko, senior analyst at Positive Technologies, said cyber security level at most industrial companies is too low for comfort.

“In most cases, Internet-accessible external network perimeters contain weak protection, device configurations contain flaws, and we find a low level of ICS network security and the use of dictionary passwords and outdated software versions present risks,” he said.

The report recommended industrial companies use cyber ranges to analyze production systems’ cyber security and enable info security specialists to correctly verify the unacceptable cyber events to their business, evaluate their implications, and assess possible damage without disrupting real business processes. 

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