70% of energy security professionals concerned about ‘catastrophic failure’ from Cyberthreats, finds Tripwire

Tripwire, Inc., a global provider of security and compliance solutions for enterprises and industrial organisations, today announced the results of a survey conducted by Dimensional Research examining industrial control systems (ICS) security in the energy industry.

The survey was conducted in March, and its respondents included 151 IT and operational technology (OT) security professionals at energy and oil and gas companies.

According to the survey, 70% of respondents are concerned that a successful cyberattack could cause a catastrophic failure, such as an explosion. With widespread recognition of the physical threat cyberattacks present against the energy and oil and gas industry, 97% are concerned that attacks could cause operational shutdowns, and 96% believe they could impact the safety of their employees.

“Energy companies have accepted the reality that digital threats can have tangible consequences,” said Tim Erlin, vice president of product management and strategy at Tripwire. “This perception is perhaps heightened by recent attacks that were specifically designed to affect physical operations and have proven capable of doing so.”

Respondents were also asked about their organisations’ security investments, with the following results:

  • While 65% feel their company invests sufficiently in ICS security, 62% said that lack of budget and investment continues to be the biggest barrier in meeting ICS security goals.
  • Of those who said their company does not invest sufficiently, 56% believe it would take a significant attack to get their companies to a proper level of investment.
  • 91% are worried about attacks on their ICS. 59% said their companies increased security investments because of ICS-targeted attacks like Trisis/Triton, Industroyer/CrashOverride and Stuxnet.
  • 45% said ransomware has had the most significant impact in increasing their security investment, compared to 44% who said Trisis/Triton and Industroyer/Crashoverride and 11% who said Stuxnet.
Tim Erlin

It is widely recommended that organisations properly secure their critical infrastructure ICS with a layered approach, commonly referred to as Defense in Depth. In the survey, only 35% of respondents said they implement a multilayered approach to ICS security. 34% said they focus primarily on network level security, and 14% said ICS device security.

Erlin added: “It’s encouraging to see that companies have increased their security investment somewhat. However, it’s concerning that more than half would wait for an attack to happen before investing properly, given what’s at stake with critical infrastructure. The energy industry should invest in establishing more robust cybersecurity strategies, with a proper foundation of critical security controls and layers of defense.”

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