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Even Before Ukraine Attacks, Energy and Utility Companies Were Under Heavy Fire

2016-04-08 12:35

A recent survey involving over 150 IT professionals in the energy, utilities, and oil and gas industries reveals that cyber-attacks had been happening in the energy field on a regular and increasing basis, even before the Ukraine electric grid attacks.

The survey's data is even more relevant since it was conducted in November 2015, a full month before the Ukraine Christmas attacks.

According to Tripwire's findings, in the past twelve months, 77 percent of all IT professionals admitted to suffering at least one cyber-attack.

78 percent of attacks come from outside sources

The same respondents also said they saw an increasing number of cyber-attacks on their infrastructure in the past month, and 44 percent reporting an increase between 50 and 100 percent, compared to the previous 30 days.

Respondents explained that most of these attacks were coming from an external source (78%). A significant number also stated that they did not know where a large number of these attacks came from (30%) while others blamed inside sources (partners, employees) (27%) or former employees (3%).

"It’s tempting to believe that this increase in attacks is horizontal across industries, but the data shows that energy organizations are experiencing a disproportionately large increase when compared to other industries," says Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy for Tripwire. "At the same time, energy organizations face unique challenges in protecting industrial control systems and SCADA assets."

US energy sector was the most attacked in 2014

Mr. Erlin's statements aren't wrong. In March 2015, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also revealed that the energy sector was the most targeted among all US industries.

From 245 security incidents to which the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) responded in 2014, 79 were in companies activating in the energy sector.

Most of these incidents were unauthorised access and exploitation of Internet-facing ICS/Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and zero-day vulnerabilities in control system devices and software.

Sources of cyber-attacks on energy sector
Sources of cyber-attacks on energy sector

Source: h-rednu-erew-seinapmoc-ytilitu-dna-ygrene-skcatta-eniarku-erofeb-neve/swen/moc.aideptfos.swen

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