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Industrial control system cyber attacks on the increase

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A recent survey published by SANS has indicated that attacks on industrial control systems are on the rise. The results, published on the SANS website, show that while attacks are on the rise, budgets remain minimal and staff remain uneducated on the risks posed by industrial control and SCADA systems.

The recent survey, sponsored by research giants such as SourceFire and Raytheon, quizzed over 250 IT security professionals regarding their knowledge of SCADA systems and how to mitigate vulnerabilities against them. The professionals were also asked questions regarding threats, breaches and the overall risk to these systems from their perspective. The results clearly show that industrial control system cyber attacks are on the increase, with identified or suspected breaches increasing from 28% to 40% from last years SANS survey.

A more alarming statistic from the survey shows that only 9% of entities questioned can say with absolute certainty that they haven’t been breached. As budgets for the security of SCADA systems decrease, and entities have less understanding of their network and threats against them, there is a real security risk that could result in catastrophic outcomes. Organisations are also finding issues regarding limited resources, staffing and technology to detect attacks against them.

Industrial control systems and SCADA networks are complicated and difficult to secure – with many organisations having little knowledge of how to configure and design them securely. The recent survey from SANS has also shown that organisations fail to collect data from the most critical assets in the ICS/SCADA network, depending mainly on staff to detect breaches rather than technology. The survey indicated that up to 16% of those questioned had no vulnerability scanning equipment within the infrastructure.

It is evident that SCADA and industrial control system cyber attacks are on the increase, with the recent survey results from SANS one of a number of publications indicating this. The alarming thing is that, with attacks on the increase, defences are not moving fast enough. Budgets for industrial control system security are still minimal, staff are not educated and resources are scarce.

Looking for further information how to protect your SCADA network? See our article on Top SCADA system security recommendations.

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