IT security at risk in the META region, according to Kaspersky Lab

IT security at risk in the META region, according to Kaspersky Lab

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In line with its commitment to increase awareness around sophisticated cyberthreats landscape at GITEX Technology Week 2018, Kaspersky Lab’s State of Industrial Cybersecurity 2018 survey highlighted the different opinions industrial and energy enterprises, as well as transport and logistics companies, have regarding the negative effects of cyberattacks on their industrial networks.

However, when it comes to the issues affecting their ability to keep networks secure there are three key concerns they can agree on – understaffing, underinvestment by senior management and the human factor. With over 40% of ICS computers in the Middle East region facing attacks every every months, these cybersecurity gaps in critical infrastructure can significantly increase the risks for organisations.

Algeria (66.2%), Morocco (60.4%), Egypt (57.6%) and Saudi Arabia (48.4%) are among the top countries that face attacks on its ICS systems.

Different fears

Depending on the industry, organisations have different assessments concerning the damage caused to their business by cyberthreats. For transport and logistics companies that build their business based on a service model, the most negative impact is losing customer confidence. But for the majority of manufacturing enterprises and energy companies, their biggest concern is compromising the quality of production due to a cyberattack.

Under-resourced and under-skilled

The task of protecting industrial networks often falls to those providing corporate information security. Globally, in 40% of manufacturing organisations, ICS protection is the responsibility of corporate IT security officers. Within transport and logistics companies, over half of those surveyed (58%) confirm that ICS safety is provided by a dedicated team working full-time to combat threats.

Industrial organisations, especially those with complex technological processes, need highly specialised, qualified employees to fill the gap. For example, in the energy sector, where national critical infrastructure is managed with the help of ICS, the main challenge when it comes to security management (61%) is hiring employees with the relevant skills.

Lack of top management involvement causes underfunding

In many enterprises, IT security is a priority for senior management, but in more than half (54%) of manufacturing companies globally, top management is little – if at all – involved in ICS protection issues, which results in underinvestment. Indeed, two-thirds (66%) do not have a dedicated budget for providing security of critical infrastructure. And this position remains unchanged, even in the event or risk of an incident, with 17% of manufacturing organisations not considering this a sufficient enough reason to invest in ICS security.

The human factor is an evergreen problem in ICS security

The consequences of employee errors pose a critical threat to half of all organisations worldwide and in all sectors (49%). This is not surprising, given that after malware and ransomware, it is the most common reason for security incidents in ICS (27%). According to a new report from Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, almost 25% data breaches in Middle East, Turkey and Africa in the past year have led to people losing their jobs.

Fortunately, companies are aware of this problem and are trying to solve it by training personnel and creating rules of behaviour on critical infrastructure objects. The research shows that 82% of organisations around the world have already implemented training for employees, contractors and vendors.

Whatever the most feared consequences for industrial organisations, the only way to prevent or lessen the effect of an attack is to put in place robust safety measures and procedures for ICS networks. Monitoring and timely responses to incidents on industrial networks should become key IT security priorities, along with educating and arming staff on how to minimise the risks to their business.

“Recent malware such as Industroyer and Triton have far exploited employee weaknesses, proving to be malicious threats to organisations and making it more evident that the cyberthreats landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace,” said Amir Kanaan, Managing Director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, Kaspersky Lab.

“Incidents caused by actions of employees can lead to data breach and failure of business processes, as well as result in huge financial losses and reputation damage. Keeping this in mind, GITEX serves as an ideal platform to focus our efforts in building awareness around this critical issue.

“Enterprises across the region have started to pay a bit more attention to ICS cybersecurity issues and are evaluating the industrial segments of their networks and training employees. It is a good sign, because it’s highly important for businesses to take proactive measures in order to avoid firefighting in future.”

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