Tough times demand tough measures. A recent convergence of three disruptive forces on industrial automation calls for resilience, according to the report of a recent survey from Claroty, The Global State Of Industrial Cybersecurity 2021: Resilience Amid Disruption. These forces are: an increase in ransomware attacks, accelerated digital transformation, and a growing trend towards working remotely. What’s needed is more investment in improved technology and the hiring and training of staff, according to the majority of the 1,100 IT and OT (operations technology) security professionals interviewed.
The number of ransomware attacks sustained by industrial enterprises, and the costs involved, are staggering. A full 80% of the companies surveyed were hit, including a breach of their OT/ICS (industrial control systems) for more than half of them. Over 60% paid the ransom, with an average payment of around $500,000 USD, and over $5,000,000 for some. That doesn’t count the cost of lost production downtime, which for the companies surveyed ranges from tens of thousands to millions of dollars per hour.
At the same time, the need for networking industrial data is stronger than ever. Fully 90% of these companies report that they sped up adoption of digital transformation since the start of the pandemic, and don’t anticipate turning back. Adding to that, working remotely has become a new normal. Just 21% of the companies surveyed had their full staff working onsite in 2021, and only 27% expect to have everyone back working onsite after the pandemic.
Secure data communications are vital
Taken together these trends indicate a strong demand for secure data communications. Claroty, the industrial cyber security company that sponsored the survey, offers five technical and procedural recommendations. For data communications, the report said maintaining proper segmentation between OT and IT networks can be a highly effective defense against ransomware:
“There are many business processes and applications that need to communicate across the IT/OT boundary, so organizations need to ensure this is done in a secure way. Ensuring an organization’s OT network and assets are isolated from IT in a manner that aligns with segmentation best practices can be a highly effective means of stopping the lateral spread of ransomware and other malware from IT to OT.”
Responding to this need for network isolation, Skkynet offers a wide range of secure solutions for in-plant, OT/IT, and cloud connectivity. Industrial enterprises large and small have come to recognize the value of our secure-by-design approach that gives them full access to their production data while keeping their OT networks secure behind DMZs and fully closed firewalls. Skkynet’s software and services answer the call for resilience.