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Lowering of geopolitical event threshold and its implications for OT, IoT, and critical infrastructure cybersecurity

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In the last decade, some of the biggest cyberattacks had some form of a geopolitical link. Right from the Ukrainian power grid attack, the attack on the Florida water treatment plant to the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, every major cyberattack has been perpetrated by state-backed hackers using malware and breach tactics developed in state-funded cyber offense labs.   

Critical infrastructure is a relatively easy target to attack for sophisticated hackers. Lack of insights into network activity, widespread unaddressed vulnerabilities, and lack of discipline when it comes to installing updates have all added to the problem. Hackers on the other end are viewing this as an opportunity to exploit.  

While in earlier instances, state-backed hackers use to target installation in an adversarial nation only during times of geopolitical tensions over sharing of resources, interpretation of certain agreements, or simply due to differences of opinion on matters of strategic interest, today hackers have lowered that threshold. Today, anything from a sporting event or some trivial event could lead to the activation of  APT clusters and a spike in cyberattacks. 

Hackers are communicating through such attacks that serve to amplify certain messages that they want to convey. As we have seen in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Indo-Pacific, and in the US adversarial actors are now turning their attention to cyberattacks on critical infrastructure as a means to showcase their ability to cause widespread disruption.  

Why is OT and IoT cybersecurity essential?

With the expansion of OT and integration with other technologies such as IoT and IT, networks are now carrying more diverse data packets originating in devices that have varying levels of security associated with them. Together, such devices and networks present cybersecurity managers a complex environment to protect and secure.  

Further, with digital transformation and large-scale automation, new gaps in cybersecurity posture are created that may miss the attention of security teams but not the reconnaissance malware dispatched by hackers to deep scan exposed networks.  

Surprisingly, in some verticals such as manufacturing, oil and gas, and smart cities cybersecurity is seen in isolation to employee safety. Malware such as Triton have shown that hackers do not avoid health and safety systems on the shop floor, utility management centers and even command and control centers of smart cities. The next Chernobyl could very well be a result of a cyberattack and this is not a stretch of imagination or reality for that matter. 

It is therefore essential to take OT cybersecurity seriously and work with a leading OT and IoT cybersecurity vendor like Sectrio to protect your core systems and infrastructure. 

Get in touch with us now for a no-obligation demo to see how vulnerable your OT infrastructure is and use our cybersecurity solutions to improve your cybersecurity posture here: Request a demo  

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Prayukth K V has been actively involved in productizing and promoting cross eco-system collaboration in the emerging tech and cybersecurity domains for over a decade. A marketer by profession and a published author, he has also proposed and promoted critical infrastructure protection strategies that rely on in-depth threat research and deflection strategies to deceive hackers and malware. Having been at the frontlines of cyber securing infrastructure, Prayukth has seen cyberattacks and defense tactics at close quarters.

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