ICS cybersecurity investment should be a priority in protecting operations from disruption

93% of ICS security professionals are concerned about cyberattacks causing operational shutdown or customer-impacting downtime, according to a Tripwire survey.

ICS cybersecurity investment

In an effort to prepare against such threats, 77% have made ICS cybersecurity investments over the past two years, but 50% still feel that current investments are not enough.

The survey was conducted by Dimensional Research and its respondents included 263 ICS security professionals at energy, manufacturing, chemical, dam, nuclear, water, food, automotive and transportation organizations.

“Cyberattacks against critical infrastructure and manufacturers pose a real threat to the safety, productivity and quality of operations,” said Kristen Poulos, vice president and general manager of industrial cybersecurity at Tripwire.

“In these environments, where virtual and physical converge, cyber events can interfere with an operator’s ability to view, monitor or control their processes. Investing in industrial cybersecurity should be a priority in protecting operations from disruption.”

Of the 50% who felt current investments were not enough, 68% believe it would take a significant attack in order for their organizations to invest more. Only 12% of all respondents expressed a high level of confidence in their ability to avoid business impact from a cyber event.

“Some of the findings need to be taken with a grain of salt. We see serious investments in unidirectional OT network protections, and in a variety of endpoint protections too for that matter,” said Andrew Ginter, VP Industrial Security at Waterfall Security Solutions.

In assessing industrial organizations’ current set of basic cybersecurity capabilities, the survey found the following:

  • Only 52% have more than 70% of their assets tracked in an asset inventory.
  • Almost one-third (31%) of organizations do not have a baseline of normal behavior for their operational technology (OT) devices and networks.
  • Less than half (39%) do not have a centralized log management solution in place for their OT devices.

Poulos added: “Visibility, although the first step, is commonly the biggest hurdle when it comes to protecting ICS environments from cyberattacks. Organizations can gain visibility of their OT networks without disrupting their processes by following methods that meet the unique needs and requirements of OT devices.

“This includes passive monitoring of network traffic to identify assets, and baselining normal activity to spot anomalies, and analyzing log data for indications of cyber events. With that visibility, organizations can effectively implement additional protective controls, such as industrial firewalls to segment critical assets and establish secure conduits.”

ICS cybersecurity investment

Additional findings include:

  • About half (49%) said that collaboration between IT and OT has improved over the past two years.
  • More indicated that IT is taking the lead on ICS security (44%) vs. OT (14%); 35% said it is evenly split between IT and OT.
  • More than three-fourths (79%) say there is a gap in training OT and IT staff on the unique needs and requirements for securing OT environments. Of those who made cybersecurity investments over two years (77%), education and training was the most common investment (82%).

“For 15 years we’ve been talking the talk of IT/OT team integration with little progress. In the last 24 months though, we’ve seen what the Tripwire survey shows – IT teams are increasingly involved or taking the lead on OT security programs,” concluded Ginter.

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