Digitalisation has exposed industrial firms to cyber threats: Fortinet

Digitalisation has exposed industrial firms to cyber threats: Fortinet
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21 Jan, 2020

Increased digitalisation exposes industrial firms to more cyber threats, a report by Sunnyvale, California-based network security solution provider Fortinet says. 

The lack of collaboration between IT (information technology) and OT (operational technology) teams has become a big hurdle for business to adopt convergence to increase their business benefits, according to the report.

“Industrial firms need to change at the operational level in order to bridge the divide between IT and OT environments and build trust between these teams, to ensure a successful convergence,” Michael Joseph, Director System Engineering, India and SAARC at Fortinet said. 

Around 66% of respondents said their factories run through IP-connected networks and use real-time data to inform business decisions. However, these IP-connected networks bring up new cybersecurity risks with 73% of respondents agreeing that the attack surface has expanded, the company said in a statement.

“As the attack surface expands, IT and OT teams must collaborate to improve visibility and defend against cyber threats. That’s why at Fortinet we are investing a lot of time and resources into R&D for ICS cybersecurity solutions,” Joseph added. 

Also, only half of the respondents agreed that their factory machinery is well prepared to fight off cybersecurity threats, leaving the other half unprepared. About 55% of respondents either have no plans to implement or plan to implement cybersecurity technologies in the next 12 months.

ICS (industrial control systems) is also at risk due to lack of collaboration between the IT and OT environments with 51% of respondents claiming they operate in silos, meaning the OT team manages critical industrial equipment and any OT cybersecurity whereas the IT team is responsible for the management of IT cybersecurity.

A quarter to over a third of respondents did not know who had primary responsibility for cybersecurity solutions such as process, control and automation systems, and even business planning and logistics.

The report, commissioned by Fortinet, was conducted by Forrester Consulting. It included 459 IT (information technology) and OT (operational technology) decision-makers responsible for ICS at industrial enterprises with 1,000 employees or more (automotive, transportation, manufacturing, maritime, and aviation engineering) in Europe and India.

Fortinet had recently found that cybercriminals are moving away from traditional methods and adopting sophisticated AI and ML-backed tools to attack organisations. The report also highlighted the strategies that companies can use to protect themselves against such attacks.

The security firm has entered into a technology partnership with Munich-based industrial automation and digitisation firm Siemens to offer security for operational technology (OT) networks in December 2019.

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