Researchers create OT honeypot, attract exploits and fraud

Trend Micro announced the results of research featuring a honeypot imitating an industrial factory. The highly sophisticated Operational Technology (OT) honeypot attracted fraud and financially motivated exploits.

OT honeypot

Hardware equipment that ran the factory

Complex investigation

The six-month investigation revealed that unsecured industrial environments are primarily victims of common threats. The honeypot was compromised for cryptocurrency mining, targeted by two separate ransomware attacks, and used for consumer fraud.

“Too often, discussion of cyber threats to industrial control systems (ICS) has been confined to highly sophisticated, nation-state level attacks designed to sabotage key processes. While these do present a risk to Industry 4.0, our research proves that more commonplace threats are more likely,” said Greg Young, vice president of cybersecurity for Trend Micro.

“Owners of smaller factories and industrial plants should therefore not assume that criminals will leave them alone. A lack of basic protections can open the door to a relatively straightforward ransomware or cryptojacking attack that could have serious consequences for the bottom line,” Young added.

OT honeypot

Honeyfiles placed in the file server to make it look realistic

Sophisticated OT honeypot

To better understand the attacks targeting ICS environments, Trend Micro Research created a highly realistic, industrial prototyping company. The honeypot consisted of real ICS hardware and a mix of physical hosts and virtual machines to run the factory, which included several programmable logic controllers (PLCs), human machine interfaces (HMIs), separate robotic and engineering workstations and a file server.

Trend Micro urges smart factory owners to minimize the number of ports they leave open and to tighten access control policies, among other cybersecurity best practices. In addition, implementing cybersecurity solutions designed for factories can help further mitigate the risk of attack.

All the details regarding this investigation are available in a PDF, no registration required.

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Researchers create OT honeypot, attract exploits and fraud