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Smaller Industrial Systems Big Targets For Cyberattacks

Published: May 17, 2020 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.

The industrial sector is no stranger to cyberattacks. Hacking threats on factories and industrial plants bring ransomware, cryptojacking, and other malware attacks that can keep a CEO awake at night. For instance, if a cybercriminal threatens to turn out the lights at a mega power plant unless a ransom is paid, both the plant and its many customers are at risk. Although governments and big industries are popular targets of cyberattacks, smaller factories and industrial plants are not immune to cyber threat. Big business usually has the financial means to bolster their systems, but their smaller counterparts are often left to fend for themselves.

Believing hackers only look to score big money ransoms and other cyberattacks against larger targets, and not from smaller factories and industrial plants, is a deceptive thought. It leads to the assumption that smaller entities don’t really need to pay much attention to cybersecurity. That assumption would be wrong. As a Trend Micro VP states “Too often, discussion of cyberthreats to industrial control systems has been confined to highly sophisticated, nation-state level attacks designed to sabotage key processes. While these do present a risk…our research proves that more commonplace threats are more likely.”

Smaller industry needs to provide basic cyber protections to prevent opening the door to bad actors. The good news is, it doesn’t take a massive endeavor to get basic security done right. Since employees are often the front lines against hacking efforts, ongoing employee education can stop phishing emails and trending threats before it’s too late.

Security experts and researchers also recommend that any industrial environment needs unique, strong passwords for each system. Added protection like two-factor authentication (2FA) provides an additional layer of security. Also, limiting the number of internet public-facing ports can reduce outside access and exposure to cyber threats. Since cybercriminals know about the latest system vulnerabilities, all systems should be regularly updated with the latest security patches. Remember, in any sized industry, cyber-smart employees, tightening and controlling access, and keeping systems updated can help eliminate the most basic security flaws that hackers look to exploit.

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