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Industrial cyber-threat warnings soared in 2019

04 March, 2020

The number of “advisories” about control system cyber-threats issued by the US government’s ICS-Cert (Industrial Control Systems Cyber-Emergency Response Team) service rose to set a new record in 2019, with 129 being issued – 53% more than in 2018.

An analysis by security experts at the Skybox Research Labs reveals that there were 53% more advisories covering Siemens products alone last year. They say that this may reflect improved reporting by both Siemens and ICS-Cert, which is now part of Cisa – the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

“The need for greater protections within OT (operational technology) networks is clearer than ever,” comments Ron Davidson, vice-president of R&D and CTO for Skybox Security. “Not only has a record number of new OT advisories been disclosed by ICS-Cert, the technology is also increasingly exposed to IT vulnerabilities as it becomes unavoidably linked with more Internet-connected devices and applications.

“In order to combat this increasing threat,” he adds, “security teams need to find ways to passively discover vulnerabilities within OT networks and find alternatives to patching when patching isn’t an option.”

Skybox’s 2019 Vulnerability and Threat Trends Report reveals a dramatic increase in ICS-Cert advisories

According to Skybox, the lack of visibility for OT networks and their risks makes them a prime target for attackers. These networks are often controlled by different teams from a company’s IT networks, cannot be scanned actively, and are difficult to patch.

The spate of ICS-Cert advisories has continued into 2020 with more than 30 already issued this year, covering products from Moxa, Honeywell, B&R Automation, Emerson, Schneider Electric and Siemens, among others.

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