The energy sector is entering a digital revolution as a means to improve efficiency and operational capabilities. However, in doing so, the industry increases its exposure to the threats associated with such a transformation – namely cyber-attacks. Due to the nature of its operations, the energy sector is one of the most important components of a nation’s critical infrastructure. Almost every other industry relies on energy providers to deliver their services. Hence, disruptions would cause spillover effects to numerous other industries and organizations, some of which could have fatal consequences. In other words, the energy sector is extremely critical, and the event of a cyber-attack would cause significant damage.
Due to its criticality, the energy sector presents itself as an attractive target for hostile state actors, or state-sponsored groups. Nation-state actors targeting an energy sector are primarily seeking to sabotage their adversary – whether it be to cause economic or security damage. As such, state-sponsored cybercriminals often engage in cyberattacks that conduct espionage activities. In some cases, state actors may carry out more aggressive cyberattacks that cause physical damage to the equipment and systems used by energy providers. Moreover, nation-state actors possess the necessary capabilities to carry out such attacks, hence increasing the risk.
Similar to state actors, terrorists perceive the energy sector as an ideal target due to a country’s dependency on it. Targeting an organization can have very detrimental consequences, including physical damage, which terrorists seek to achieve. Unlike state actors, however, terrorist groups typically lack the necessary skills to execute a successful attack.
Many times, IT and security teams in the energy sector struggle in providing complete and accurate protection of their hardware assets – especially in today’s extremely challenging IT/OT/IoT environment. This is because, often, there is a lack of device visibility which leads to weakened policy enforcement of hardware access. This vulnerability may result in security incidents such as ransomware attacks, data leakage, etc. In order to address this challenge, ultimate visibility into your Hardware assets is required, regardless of device characteristics and the interface used for connection. Moreover, malicious actors have adapted to the dynamic cybersecurity defenses deployed to block cyber-attacks by taking advantage of the “blind spots” – mainly through USB HID-emulating devices or Physical Layer network implants. These Rogue Devices are covert by nature and go undetected by existing security software solutions, thereby leaving the organization extremely vulnerable.
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