38% of industrial computers were under attack in META region

From January to September 2022, computers in the industrial control systems (ICS) environment were attacked using multiple means. In the META region, malicious objects were blocked on 38% of ICS computers in the region that were protected by Kaspersky (www.Kaspersky.co.za) solutions, according to Kaspersky ICS CERT statistics. Globally the share of ICS computers with blocked malicious objects stands at 31,8%. APT attacks on industrial systems are expected to get even more sophisticated in the coming months.

ICS computers are used in oil&gas, energy, automotive manufacturing, building automation infrastructures and other spheres to perform a range of OT functions – from the workstations of engineers and operators to supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) servers and Human Machine Interface (HMI). Cyberattacks on industrial computers are considered to be extremely dangerous as they may cause material losses and production downtime for the controlled production line and even the facility as a whole. Moreover, industrial enterprises put out of service can seriously undermine a region’s social welfare, ecology and macroeconomics.

During the three quarters of 2022 in the META region, ICS computers in the oil and gas sector faced attacks most often (39,3% of them got attacked). Attacks on building automation systems were in second place – 38,8% of ICS computers in this sector were targeted. The energy sector was also among the top-3 environments that got attacked (36,8% of computers there were affected).

In total, in January-September 2022 various types of malicious objects were blocked on 38% of ICS computers in the META region. Of these, most attacks on ICS infrastructure came from the Internet (28,2%). 9,9% of attacks were made through email clients. 7,0% of attacks were conducted through removable media, 0,9% – through network folders.

In Nigeria, various types of malicious objects were blocked on 38.7% of ICS computers between January-September 2022. Of these, 19.4% came from the Internet and 3.5% of attacks were made through email clients. 10.7% of attacks were conducted through removable media.

APT attacks on industrial systems are expected to get even more sophisticated in the coming months. The targets will be organisations in agriculture, logistics&transportation, energy (mining, chemical, machine tool industry) sectors, as well as the sectors of renewable energy and Hi-Tech.

Another trend seen by Kaspersky for the remainder of 2022 and the next year is the rise of ransomware in ICS environments. Ransomware groups have come a long way: scattered gangs become organised businesses and form a full-fledged industry. We are seeing more cases where ransomware attacks, including those on ICS computers, are performed manually, in a time-consuming, yet efficient manner.

“The period of global instability provokes global semiconductor shortage. In turn, that causes companies to lower their budgets on cybersecurity, which becomes a critical issue in 2022-2023, especially in view of the evolving threat landscape. Critical industrial infrastructure solutions will be a new target for cybercrime,” says Vladimir Dashchenko, Kaspersky Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team expert.

To keep your OT computers protected from various threats, Kaspersky experts recommend:

  • Conducting regular security assessments of OT systems to identify and eliminate possible cyber security issues.
  • Establishing continuous vulnerability assessment and triage as a base for effective vulnerability management process. Dedicated solutions like Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity (http://bit.ly/3UVSDd9) may become an efficient assistant and a source of unique actionable information, not fully available in public.
  • Performing timely updates for the key components of the enterprise’s OT network; applying security fixes and patches or implementing compensating measures as soon as it is technically possible is crucial for preventing a major incident that might cost millions due to the interruption of the production process.
  • Using EDR solutions such as Kaspersky Endpoint Detection and Response (http://bit.ly/3URTOu8) for timely detection of sophisticated threats, investigation, and effective remediation of incidents.
  • Improving the response to new and advanced malicious techniques by building and strengthening security teams’ incident prevention, detection, and response skills. Dedicated OT security trainings for IT security teams and OT personnel is one of the key measures helping to achieve this.