FROM January to September 2022, computers in the industrial control systems (ICS) environment were attacked using multiple means in Nigeria and other part of Africa, including Middle East and Turkey (META).
Kaspersky, which revealed this, said in the META region, malicious objects were blocked on 38 per cent of ICS computers in the region that were protected by Kaspersky solutions.
In its Kaspersky ICS CERT statistics, it explained that globally, the share of ICS computers with blocked malicious objects stands at 31.8 per cent. APT attacks on industrial systems are expected to get even more sophisticated in the coming months.
ICS computers are used in oil and, energy, automotive manufacturing, building automation infrastructures and other spheres to perform a range of OT functions – from the workstations of engineers a& nd 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 a whole. Moreover, industrial enterprises put out of service can seriously undermine a region’s social welfare, ecology and macroeconomics.
During the three quarters of 2022 in the META region, ICS computers in the oil and gas sector faced attacks most often (39.3 per cent of them got attacked). Attacks on building automation systems were in 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 got attacked (36.8 per cent of computers there were affected).
In total, Kaspersky sin January-September 2022 various types of malicious objects were blocked on 38 per cent of ICS computers in the META region. Of these, most attacks on ICS infrastructure came from the Internet (28.2 per cent). 9.9 per cent of attacks were made through email clients. 7.0 per cent of attacks were conducted through removable media, 0.9 per cent – through network folders.
In Nigeria, various types of malicious objects were blocked on 38.7 per cent of ICS computers between January-September 2022. Of these, 19.4 per cent came from the Internet and 3.5 per cent of attacks were made through email clients. 10.7 per cent of attacks were conducted through removable media.
APT attacks on industrial systems are expected to get even more sophisticated in the coming months. The targets will be organisations in agriculture, logistics and transportation, energy (mining, chemical, machine tool industry) sectors, 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. We are seeing more cases where ransomware attacks, including those on ICS computers, are performed manually, in a time-consuming, yet efficient manner.
Kaspersky Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team expert, Vladimir Dashchenko, said: “The period of global instability provokes global semiconductor shortage. In turn, that causes 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.”
According to Kaspersky, to keep the computers protected from various threats, it recommended that there is need to conduct regular security assessments of OT systems to identify and eliminate possible cyber security issues; establishing continuous vulnerability assessment and triage as a base for effective vulnerability management process. Performing timely updates for the key components of the enterprise’s OT network; applying security fixes and patches or implementing compensating measures as soon as it is technically possible is crucial for preventing a major incident that might cost millions due to the interruption of the production process.