Cybersecurity of Modern Industrial Systems

The relevance of cybersecurity at industrial enterprises is constantly growing in the light of the latest global cyber events affecting the CIS countries, including Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine.

Over May and June of 2017, the following companies were affected by cyber attacks: NCOC (Kashagan), Maersk, Rosneft, Gazprom, Ukrenergo, Chernobyl NPP, Ukrgazdobycha.

The hackers are honing their skills, so it is getting harder to counter cyber attacks. This is evidenced by the viruses WannaCry, Petya, and NotPetya, that recently hit a large number of industrial, government and financial facilities. According to Kaspersky Lab statistics collected from 21 countries, the average annual losses from cyber attacks at enterprises with more than 500 employees equal 497,000 USD.

Due to the scope of threats, companies are constantly improving their security systems to protect themselves. Cyber security is supported in various ways. These include antiviruses, firewalls, isolation of critical systems and any other solutions that protect critically important infrastructure. In recent years, there has been a surge in demand for training of technical personnel directly involved in the production process.

Unfortunately, statistics show that in most cases, the cause of cyber attacks is a person, not a machine. Nikolay Alekseyev, the head of IT and cyber security of industrial systems at Abiroy, focuses the attention of enterprises on the human factor:
"In general, the machine does what we tell it to do. If we open a letter from an unknown sender, download an unfamiliar malicious application or insert an infected USB drive into a computer connected to the APCS, the machine has nothing to do with it. Regarding USB drives, a classic example is the cyber attack in Iran, when the Stuxnet virus hit critical nuclear facilities in the country."

The best scenario for a company is when it is not attacked. But the reality of our days shows that cyber attacks are becoming more frequent, and the list of affected enterprises is increasing. Based on a fresh survey of Kaspersky Lab in 2017, 50% of companies using automated process control systems were attacked in the last 12 months. Experts also predicted that the number of cyber attacks on production facilities would grow in 2017. The proof: two powerful attacks in May and June. Moreover, the Vedomosti newspaper reports on the possibility of an attack on the Russian energy sector in the near future. In western countries, many companies are investing in incident management centers and industrial cybersecurity teams. The question that needs to be answered in the very near future is how effectively they operate and how well the cybersecurity culture is spread among employees. In the end, it all comes down to financial, operational and reputational consequences. The better a company can react to cyber attacks and reflect them, the less losses it will suffer from such attacks.

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