Despite automation, the human factor can still put industrial processes at risk: employee errors or unintentional actions were behind 52 per cent of incidents affecting operational technology and industrial control system (OT/ICS) networks last year. According to a new Kaspersky report “State of Industrial Cybersecurity 2019”, this issue is part of a wider, more complicated context. The growing complexity of industrial infrastructures demands more advanced protection and skills. But, organizations are experiencing a shortage of professionals to handle new threats and low awareness among employees.
Digitalization of industrial networks and adoption of Industry 4.0 standards are in the pipeline for many industrial companies. Four out of five organizations (81 per cent) see operational network digitalization as an important or very important task for this year. However, for all the benefits that connected infrastructure brings, there are associated with cybersecurity risks.
The good news is that OT/ICS cybersecurity is becoming a top priority for industrial companies, as confirmed by the majority (87 per cent) of respondents. But to achieve the necessary level of protection, they need to invest in dedicated measures and have highly qualified professionals to make them work effectively. Despite stating it as a priority, only just over half of companies (57 per cent) have the allocated budget for industrial cybersecurity.
In addition to budget constraints, there is also a question over skilled staff. Organizations are not only experiencing a lack of cybersecurity experts with the right skills to manage protection for industrial networks but are worried that their OT/ICS network operators are not fully aware of the behaviour that can cause cybersecurity breaches. These challenges make up the top two major concerns relating to cybersecurity management and go some way to explaining why employee errors cause half of all ICS incidents — such as malware infections — and also more serious targeted attacks.
In almost half of companies (45 per cent), the employees responsible for IT infrastructure security also oversee the security of OT/ ICS networks, combining this task with their core responsibilities. Such an approach may carry security risks: although operational and corporate networks are becoming increasingly connected, specialists on each side can have different approaches (37 per cent) and goals (18 per cent) when it comes to cybersecurity.
In addition to a technical and awareness boost for industrial cybersecurity, organizations need to consider specific protection for Industrial IoT which can become highly connected externally: almost half of the companies (41 per cent) are ready to connect their OT/ICS network to the cloud, using preventive maintenance or digital twins.