Cyber Research Center - Industrial Control Systems - CRC-ICS

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Industrial Control Systems - Cyber News

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Critical Infrastructures and Industries are slowly waking up to the fact that its facilities are in the crosshairs, the targets of cyber attacks by bad actors trying to exploit vulnerabilities in industrial control systems (ICS's) / critical infrastructures (CI) to steal intellectual property or damage or take over control of critical equipment. It's a cyber war out there. Is your organisation aware of these threats and ready for battle? Read the latest Cyber News here!

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Security Lessons we Learned from  2017

The year 2017 proved to be a bane with respect to cyber-security, with many private and public entities falling victim to major cyber incidents. As technology evolves and becomes more connected, it will be easier for hackers to tap into the vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, we learnt it the hard way. Here are some very real lessons from the cyber incidents of 2017.
  1. The most at-risk industry for a cyber-attack in 2017 is Energy & Utilities: The technology to run critical infrastructure systems like power, water, and oil refinement weren't designed with information security in mind. Increasingly, we see that many of the players engaged in cyber warfare understand and seek to exploit this. In fact, 2017 turned out to be the year where we saw the first ever malware framework designed and deployed to attack electric grids, cleverly named CRASHOVERIDE or Industroyer depending on the source of the analysis. The good news is that there is a push to rapidly modernize and harden these systems with adoption of industry standards such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and NERC CIP, developed to help reduce risks to critical infrastructure. The bad news is that securing vulnerable systems takes investment and commitment. While standards and increased awareness in closing security holes is an improvement, most critical infrastructure has significant exposure that leaves it vulnerable to an attack.
  2. Vendors, service providers, and other third parties continue to be initial points of compromise for breaches. Organizations in public and private sectors alike are increasingly working with vendors who either have access to or store sensitive data. This significantly increases the risk of that information being leaked or a breach occurring due to a contractor being compromised, as was the case with the historic OPM breach. As 2017 progresses, we'll continue to see organizations victimized in this way because they unsafely assume their contractors uphold the same security standards as they do. To mitigate this risk, organizations must set security policies for all external groups and enforce adhering to them as a prerequisite for doing business.
  3. Privileged access hacks will continue: Data breaches as a result of compromised privileged access are widespread. It's all about privilege-attackers need high level access, which they get through targeting privileged users like IT professionals, CEOs and vendors via phishing or malware to achieve their financial goals or other motivations. These users are targeted by the threat actor because they are likely to have access to other privileged credentials that the attacker can leverage to increase dwell time and compromise the targeted organization. We have seen this all too often in 2017 as in the leak of content from Netflix's Orange is the New Black as a result of a vendor attack. The most recent HBO breach further emphasizes the importance of network security and serves as clear reminder that cyberattacks aren't just limited to financial, health or personal information. Businesses need to get serious about security around their most privileged users-identifying them, monitoring their access, and closing off access to what they don't need.
  4. Healthcare will continue to lose to cyberattacks. Healthcare data breach costs are the highest among surveyed sectors for the seventh straight year, according to the IBM and Ponemon 2017 Cost of a Data Breach Study: Global Overview. As seen with the WannaCry attack and its paralyzing impact on major hospitals in the UK, healthcare will suffer another major security breach this year as the industry is particularly susceptible to ransomware attacks. Losing access to patient records can cripple the ability to provide services to patients, putting the health of consumers at risk. Attackers know this risk and aren't hesitating to target organizations with inadequate security controls in place.  
  5. The security blame game will heat up. The IoT and integrated relationships with security solution providers mean companies are not able to easily account for ownership or origin once a breach happens. Who is responsible for securing, maintaining and patching the various technologies? Worse yet, has a product been connected that can't even be patched? A number of IoT devices are often overlooked, because they fall outside of IT's traditional purview. Companies might even be unaware the security responsibility lies with them, leading to a scenario in which a connected device ends up on a vulnerability database and is quickly exploited. In other instances, security updates might be maintained by a vendor or another third party who has access to the company's system. A company is only as secure as its least secure device or relationship. When a breach occurs, even with layers of security, the question of who "owns" responsibility for it and who had power to do something about it will create intense reactions and finger-pointing.. 
  6. Security overshadows Mergers & Acquisitions as companies begin investigating security hygiene in their own industry. We'll not only see more enterprises get serious about security around their most privileged users, but those of their acquisitions and takeovers as well. Companies and investment funds will begin investigating the security hygiene within their own industry and evaluate not only the deal itself, but the entire security infrastructure of the acquisition. This may cause major deals to fall through in 2017 and beyond, and cause companies across the board to invest more seriously in modernizing their security. Companies are paying attention to the security issues they may be inheriting when striking a contract with another organization, and we will see this heightened awareness continue throughout the year.
  7. IoT Security is a critical need. With a super connected Internet of Things (IoT) world, comes a super threat to disrupting life and work. The recent attack on DNS provider Dyn, leading to major Internet outages, is proof enough. Companies must jolt themselves back to reality and understand that securing IoT networks through and through, is not a choice but a necessity. 
  8. Consolidation is the way ahead. A disparate and fragmented industry cannot create true value for the customer, be it cost value or solution effectiveness. The year 2016 saw some major consolidations, such as Symantec-Bluecoat, Confer-Carbon Black and so on. The trend will continue, with shared value being realised in the quest to become cyber pitfall-proof.
  9. Cyber Terrorism & Cyber Warfare. We have seen in 2017 several serious cyber attacks on Critical Infrastructures like the cyber attacks on the Power Grid in Ukraine and Utility installations in several other countries. Cyber Terrorism & Cyber Warfare will be a common way of operations in the future.
  10. Critical Infrastructures under attack. Statistics show that in several countries critical infrastructures are under a continuous attack from rogue group or nation-state sponsored groups motivated by political intents. So be prepared for these type of attacks by having Cyber Awareness, Cyber Resistance and Cyber Resilience in harmony, implemented and tested.

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