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CISA Addresses Rise in Ransomware Threatening OT Assets

The agency has released guidance in response to a rise of ransomware attacks affecting OT assets and control systems.

The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) today published a fact sheet to address the rise in ransomware attacks targeting critical infrastructure and driving the threat to operational technology (OT) assets and control systems.

OT components are often connected to IT networks, giving attackers a path to pivot from IT to OT networks, officials explained in their guidance, noting accessible OT assets are an appealing target for criminals aiming to disrupt critical infrastructure for profit or to achieve other goals.

"As demonstrated by recent cyber incidents, intrusions affecting IT networks can also affect critical operational processes even if the intrusion does not directly impact an OT network," they wrote. "All organizations are at risk of being targeted by ransomware and have an urgent responsibility to protect against ransomware threats."

Organizations that own and operate critical infrastructure assets should be aware of these threats and voluntarily implement the recommendations outlined. These include identifying critical processes that must continue uninterrupted to provide essential services, as well as developing and testing workarounds or manual controls to ensure critical processes – and the ICS networks supporting them – can be isolated and operate without IT network access if needed.

Officials also recommended implementing network segmentation between IT and OT networks. In addition, organizations should ensure backup procedures are in place and regularly tested, and that backups are isolated from network connections, they wrote.

Read CISA's full fact sheet for more details.

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