In the past few years, cyber-attacks against Operational Technology have increased significantly. And with geopolitical tensions being played out in the digital realm, attention has turned to the safety of critical national infrastructure – and the disruption that a cyber-attack could cause.
One of the reasons for this increase in cyber-attacks against national critical infrastructure has been the implementation of traditional IT hardware and software in industrial environments. This has enabled hackers to use IT malware components for attacks on operational technology environments.
Simultaneously, cybersecurity has lagged behind in the OT sphere, with many of these systems being decades-old – further increasing their vulnerability.
The cost of cyber-attacks on the industrial space cannot be understated. According to PwC, a cyber-attack on an OT environment can include prolonged outages of critical services, environmental damage and even the loss of human life.
A case in point is Triton. In 2017, this malware compromised the safety instrumentation system of a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia, leading to it being dubbed ‘the world’s most murderous malware’. Had it progressed further, the consequences would have been completely destructive, with the complete collapse of the plant entirely possible.
Special attention is given to the use of AI and machine learning techniques, both to attack and defend integrated IT and OT networks. The grave dangers of weaponized AI are particularly acute in the OT space, and are likely to lead to a form of cyber arms race where only the best AI system will win out.
Already, attackers are leveraging defensive AI to circumvent traditional detection methods in the OT environment. Organizations need AI to fight back.
Click here to learn how you can defend your organisation against AI-powered attacks like Triton 2.0.