Utilities, Other Critical Infrastructure Inadequately Prepared for Cyber Threats

July 11, 2014 By Karen Henry

cyber-threat-energy-manageUtility, oil and gas, alternate energy and manufacturing organizations are not adequately prepared to deal with a cyber threat, according to a new study, “Critical Infrastructure: Security Preparedness and Maturity.” Sponsored by Unisys and conducted by the Ponemon Institute, the purpose of the July 2014 study was to learn how these organization are addressing cyber security threats.

Ponemon surveyed 599 Global IT and IT security executives in 13 countries. The survey revealed that the majority of participants do not believe their companies’ IT security programs are “mature,” meaning that most IT security program activities are deployed. In fact, only 17 percent of companies reported that most of their IT security program activities are deployed. Fifty percent of respondents say their IT security activities have not been defined or deployed (7 percent) or they have defined activities but they are only partially deployed (43 percent).

While 57 percent of respondents agree that cyber threats are putting industrial control systems and supervisory control and data acquisition at greater risk, only 28 percent agree that security is one of the top five strategic priorities across the enterprise.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents say their companies have had at least one security compromise that led to the loss of confidential information or disruption to operations over the last 12 months. Twenty-four percent of respondents say these compromises were due to an insider attack or negligent privileged IT users.

Fifty-four percent of respondents are not confident that their organization would be able to upgrade legacy systems to the next improved security state in cost-effective ways without sacrificing mission-critical security. According to 34 percent of respondents, their companies do not get real-time alerts, threat analysis and threat prioritization intelligence, and of those that do receive such intelligence, 22 percent say they are not effective. Only 15 percent of respondents say threat intelligence is effective and actionable.

The global energy sector is one of the top five most at-risk industries for malware, according to Cisco.

Earlier this year, the InsideIQ Building Automation Alliance formed a Cybersecurity Committee to promote best practices in cybersecurity of building automation systems (BAS).


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