theDocumentId => 1339005 Attacks Against Building Automation, Oil and Gas ...

Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

9/24/2020
12:15 PM
Dark Reading
Dark Reading
Products and Releases
100%
0%

Attacks Against Building Automation, Oil and Gas Industries Up in First Half of 2020

Growth was likely driven by a more targeted attack approach from cybercriminals, according to Kaspersky.

Woburn, MA – September 24, 2020 – According to Kaspersky research, over the first six months of 2020, the percent of systems attacked in the oil and gas as well as the building automation industries increased when compared to H1 and H2 2019. Growth in these sectors occurred as the percent of industrial control system (ICS) computers attacked in other industries declined as cybercriminals shifted their focus to distributing more targeted and focused threats.

Attacks against industrial organizations always carry the potential to be particularly devastating, both in terms of disruption to production and financial losses. In addition, attacks against industrial enterprises have become more targeted, organized by sophisticated threat actors with extensive resources whose goals may not just be financial gain but also cyberespionage.

This past winter, spring and early summer, the industries most prone to attacks were building automation and oil and gas. Attacks against the latter have the potential to be catastrophic given the massive financial losses already incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The percentage of ICS computers on which malicious objects were blocked grew from 38% in H2 2019 to 39.9% in H1 2020 in the building automation industry and 36.3 to 37.8% in the oil and gas industry.

Building automation systems tend to be more often exposed to attacks. They often have a larger attack surface than traditional ICS computers because they are frequently connected to corporate networks and the Internet. At the same time, because they traditionally belong to contractor organizations, these systems are not always managed by the organization’s corporate information security team, making them an easier target.

The growth percentage of ICS computers attacked in the oil and gas industry can be traced back to the development of a variety of worms (malicious programs that self-replicate on the infected device) written in script languages, specifically Python and PowerShell. These worms are able to gather authentication credentials from the memory of system processes using different versions of the Mimikatz utility. From the end of March to mid-June 2020, a large number of these worms were detected, primarily in China and the Middle East. 

The increase in the percent of ICS systems attacked in the oil and gas and building automation industries was the exception for the first half of 2020, as the percent of systems attacked in most other industries declined. This occurred as attackers appeared to shift their focus from mass attacks to distributing more focused and targeted threats, including backdoors (dangerous Trojans that gain remote control over the infected device), spyware (malicious programs designed to steal data) and ransomware attacks (which tend to target specific enterprises). In fact, there were noticeably more families of backdoors and spyware built on the .NET platform that were detected and blocked on ICS computers. The percent of ICS computers affected by ransomware grew slightly in H1 2020 when compared to H2 2019 across all industries, with a series of attacks witnessed against medical facilities and industrial companies.

Industrial companies were also the victim of sophisticated campaigns by advanced persistent threat (APT) actors.

“The percent of ICS computers attacked across most industries is declining, however there are still threats to specific industries that are on the rise,” said Evgeny Goncharov, security expert at Kaspersky.  “The more targeted and sophisticated attacks are, the greater potential they have to cause significant damage—even if they occur less frequently. What’s more, with many enterprises forced to work remotely and sign-in to corporate systems from home, ICS have naturally become more exposed to cyberthreats. With fewer on-sight personnel, there are fewer people available to respond and mitigate an attack, meaning the consequences may be far more devastating. Given that the oil and gas and building automation infrastructures appear to be a popular target among attackers, it’s crucial that these system owners and operators take extra security precautions.”

Learn more about the industrial threat landscape for H1 2020 on ICS CERT.

To keep your ICS computers protected from various threats, Kaspersky experts recommend:

  • Regularly update operating systems and application software that are part of the enterprise’s industrial network. Apply security fixes and patches to ICS network equipment as soon as they are available.
  • Conduct regular security audits of OT systems to identify and eliminate possible vulnerabilities.
  • Use ICS network traffic monitoring, analysis and detection solutions for better protection from attacks potentially threatening technological process and main enterprise assets.
  • Dedicated ICS security training for IT security teams and OT engineers is crucial to improve response to new and advanced malicious techniques.
  • Provide the security team responsible for protecting industrial control systems with up-to-date threat intelligence. ICS Threat Intelligence Reporting service provides insights into current threats and attack vectors, as well as the most vulnerable elements in OT and industrial control systems and how to mitigate them.
  • Use security solutions for OT endpoints and network such as Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity to ensure comprehensive protection for all industry critical systems.
  • It is no less important to protect IT infrastructure as well. Integrated Endpoint Security protects corporate endpoints and enables automated threat detection and response capabilities.

 

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
News
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
Commentary
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-32788
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-27
Discourse is an open source discussion platform. In versions prior to 2.7.7 there are two bugs which led to the post creator of a whisper post being revealed to non-staff users. 1: Staff users that creates a whisper post in a personal message is revealed to non-staff participants of the personal mes...
CVE-2021-32796
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-27
xmldom is an open source pure JavaScript W3C standard-based (XML DOM Level 2 Core) DOMParser and XMLSerializer module. xmldom versions 0.6.0 and older do not correctly escape special characters when serializing elements removed from their ancestor. This may lead to unexpected syntactic changes durin...
CVE-2021-32748
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-27
Nextcloud Richdocuments in an open source self hosted online office. Nextcloud uses the WOPI ("Web Application Open Platform Interface") protocol to communicate with the Collabora Editor, the communication between these two services was not protected by a credentials or IP check. Whilst th...
CVE-2021-34432
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-27
In Eclipse Mosquitto versions 2.07 and earlier, the server will crash if the client tries to send a PUBLISH packet with topic length = 0.
CVE-2021-20399
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-27
IBM Qradar SIEM 7.3.0 to 7.3.3 Patch 8 and 7.4.0 to 7.4.3 GA is vulnerable to an XML External Entity Injection (XXE) attack when processing XML data. A remote attacker could exploit this vulnerability to expose sensitive information or consume memory resources. IBM X-Force ID: 196073.