Kaspersky Report: Energy and ICS Integration companies face highest chance of cyberattack

  • March 27, 2018
  • News
Kaspersky Report: Energy and ICS Integration companies face highest chance of cyberattack
Kaspersky Report: Energy and ICS Integration companies face highest chance of cyberattack

March 27, 2018A report from Kaspersky Lab found that in the second half of 2017, nearly 40 percent of all industrial control systems (ICS) in energy organizations protected by Kaspersky Lab solutions were attacked by malware at least once – closely followed by 35 percent of engineering & ICS integration networks.

The Kaspersky Lab report, “Threat Landscape for Industrial Automation Systems in H2 2017,” also found that for all other industries (manufacturing, transportation, utilities, food, healthcare, etc.) the proportion of ICS computers attacked ranged from 26 percent to 30 percent on average. The vast majority of detected attacks were accidental hits.

The cybersecurity of industrial facilities remains an issue that can lead to very serious consequences affecting industrial processes, as well as businesses losses. While analyzing the threat landscape in different industries, Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT recorded that nearly all industries regularly experience cyberattacks on their ICS computers. However, there are two industries that were attacked more than others – energy organizations (39%), and engineering and ICS integration businesses (35%).

The sector that demonstrated the most noticeable growth of ICS computers attacked during the second half of 2017 (compared to the first half of 2017) was construction, with 31 percent attacked. The relatively high percentage of attacked ICS computers in the construction industry compared to the first half of 2017 could indicate that these organizations are not necessarily mature enough to pay the required attention to the protection of industrial computers. Their computerized automation systems might be relatively new and an industrial cybersecurity culture is still being developed in these organizations.

The lowest percentage of ICS attacks – 15 percent – has been found in enterprises specializing in developing ICS software, meaning that their ICS research/development laboratories, testing platforms, demo stands and training environment are also being attacked by malicious software, although not as often as the ICS computers of industrial enterprises. Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT experts point to the significance of ICS vendors’ security, because the consequences of an attack spreading over the vendor’s partner ecosystem and customer base could be very dramatic – as seen during the ExPetr malware epidemic.

Among the new trends of 2017, Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT researchers have discovered a rise in mining attacks on ICS. This growth trend began in September 2017, along with an increase in the cryptocurrency market and miners in general. But in the case of industrial enterprises, this type of attack can pose a greater threat by creating a significant load on computers, and as a result, negatively affecting the operation of the enterprise’s ICS components and threatening their stability.

Overall, during the period from February 2017 to January 2018, cryptocurrency mining programs attacked three percent of industrial automation system computers, in most cases accidentally.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • Kaspersky Lab products blocked attempted infections on 38% of ICS computers protected by them. This is 1.4 percentage points less than in the second half of 2016.
  • The internet remains the main source of infection with 22.7% of ICS computers attacked. This is two percent higher than in the first six months of the year. The percentage of blocked web-borne attacks in Europe and North America is substantially lower than elsewhere.
  • The top five countries by percentage of ICS computers attacked has remained unchanged since reported in the first half of 2017. This includes Vietnam (70%), Algeria (66%), Morocco (60%), Indonesia (60%) and China (60%).
  • In the second half of 2017, the number of different malware modifications detected by Kaspersky Lab solutions installed on industrial automation systems increased from 18,000 to over 18,900.
  • In 2017, 11% of all ICS systems were attacked by botnet agents, a malware that secretly infects machines and includes them in a botnet network for remote command execution; the main sources of attacks like this were the internet, removable media and email messages.
  • In 2017, Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT identified 63 vulnerabilities in industrial systems and IIoT/IoT systems, and 26 of them have been fixed by vendors.

The results of our research into attacked ICS computers in various industries have surprised us, said Evgeny Goncharov, head of Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT. “For example, the high percentage of ICS computers attacked in power and energy companies demonstrated that the enterprises’ effort to ensure cybersecurity of their automation systems after some serious incidents in the industry is not enough, and there are multiple loopholes still there that cybercriminals can use.”

Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT recommends the following technical measures to be taken:

  • Regularly update operating systems, application software and security solutions on systems that are part of the enterprise’s industrial network.
  • Restrict network traffic on ports and protocols used on the edge routers and inside organization's OT networks.
  • Audit ICS component access control in the enterprise’s industrial network and at its boundaries.
  • Deploy dedicated endpoint protection solutions onto ICS servers, workstations and HMIs to secure OT and industrial infrastructure from random cyberattacks.
  • Deploy network traffic monitoring, analysis and detection solutions for better protection from targeted attacks.

To read the full report,“Threat Landscape for Industrial Automation Systems in H2 2017,” please visit the Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT website here.

About Kaspersky Lab

Kaspersky Lab is a global cybersecurity company, which has been operating in the market for over 20 years. Kaspersky Lab’s threat intelligence and security expertise is constantly transforming into next generation security solutions and services to protect businesses, critical infrastructure, governments and consumers around the globe.

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