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Research: Cybersecurity requires asset updates

Courtesy of Brett Sayles

Those answering the 2020 Control Engineering cybersecurity research survey said, in a significant shift, the age of existing assets is the highest risk factor at 67%. In a similar 2016 cybersecurity survey, age of existing assets was 46% (third) in 2016. In 2016, the lack of appropriate technologies and lack of training or enforcement related to technologies were tied for first at 53%.

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With more remote operations related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as manufacturing retools to lower human risk while ramping up again, cybersecurity remains a concern. Data was collected Feb. 7 through March 5.

Cybersecurity research: threats, vulnerabilities, training

Threat levels: Perceived cybersecurity threats within respondents’ organizations were 3% severe and 73% high or moderate. Perceived severity remains the same within margins of error for each study: 25% high, 48% moderate, 22% low, 3% severe.

Most concerning threat: The most concerning threat to control systems is malware from a random source with no specific connection to our company or industry. The least concerning threat was an inside, intentional threat.

Greatest concern: Computer assets running commercial operating systems are the greatest concern regarding cybersecurity within the organization for 65% of respondents. The next greatest concerns were network devices and wireless communication devices.

Vulnerable components: Of the respondents, 39% said they are aware of zero malicious cyber incidents in the past 24 months while only 9% said they are aware of more than five malicious cyber incidents in the past 24 months.

Malicious incidents: The largest share of respondents, 40%, said cyber incidents they were aware of were accidental infections; while only 22% said were targeted in nature.

Accidental incidents: More than half of the respondents said they were allowed to report cyber-related incidents, and they did. Of the respondents, 20% said they were allowed and did not report the incident.

Incident response team: An operating operational incident response team was present in the organization for 50% of the respondents; however, about a third (34%) said their organization does not have such a response team.

Training: Training to identify things that may indicate a cyber incident or attack was received by 64% of respondents. Training regarding who to contact in the event of a cyber incident or attack was received by 50% of respondents and 49% said they receive training on identifying social engineering attacks. Training on any of these topics was not received by 14% of respondents.

Think again about opportunities for upgrades and to decrease risk with more remote workers and as more manufacturers and engineering-related businesses restart.

Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media,


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Original content can be found at Control Engineering.




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