Muscat – From January to September 2022, various types of malicious objects were blocked on 33.1 per cent of industrial control system (ICS) computers in Oman, according to Kaspersky ICS CERT statistics.
Of these, most attacks on ICS infrastructure came from the Internet (19.4 per cent), seven per cent of the attacks were made through email clients, and 4.8 per cent of attacks were conducted through removable media.
Globally, the share of ICS computers with blocked malicious objects stands at 31.8 per cent. Advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks on industrial systems are expected to get even more sophisticated in the coming months.
ICS computers are used in oil & gas, energy, automotive manufacturing, building automation infrastructures and other spheres to perform a range of operational technology
(OT) functions – from the workstations of engineers and operators to supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) servers and human machine interface (HMI).
Cyberattacks on industrial computers are considered to be extremely dangerous as they may cause material losses and production downtime for the controlled production line and even the facility as the whole. Moreover, industrial enterprises put out of service can seriously undermine a region’s social welfare, ecology and macroeconomics.
During the first three quarters of 2022 in the META region, ICS computers in the oil & gas sector faced attacks most often (39.3 per cent of them were attacked). Attacks on building automation systems were in the second place – 38.8 per cent of ICS computers in this sector were targeted. The energy sector was also among the top-three environments that were attacked (36.8 per cent of computers there were affected).
APT attacks on industrial systems are expected to get even more sophisticated in the coming months. The targets will be organisations in agriculture, logistics & transportation, energy (mining, chemical and machine tool industry), as well as the sectors of renewable energy and hi-tech.
Another trend seen by Kaspersky for the remainder of 2022 and the next year is the rise of ransomware in ICS environments. Ransomware groups have come a long way: scattered gangs become organised businesses and form a full-fledged industry. More cases of ransomware attacks, including those on ICS computers, are being reported in recent times.
“The period of global instability provoked global semiconductor shortage. In turn, that caused companies to lower their budgets on cybersecurity, which becomes a critical issue in 2022-2023, especially in view of the evolving threat landscape. Critical industrial infrastructure solutions will be a new target for cybercrime,” said Vladimir Dashchenko, Kaspersky Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team expert.