Cyberattacks shut down half of OT firms in Singapore in the past year

Image courtesy of Larry Teo

There are widespread gaps in industrial security as  93% of operational technology (OT) organisations globally and 86% in Singapore experienced an intrusion in the past 12 months, according to the 2022 State of Operational Technology and Cybersecurity Report showed.

The top three intrusion types that Singaporean firms experienced were phishing email, malware and hackers. 

As a result of these intrusions, nearly 50% (Singapore,%) of organisations suffered an operation outage that affected productivity with 90% of intrusions requiring hours or longer to restore service.

This year’s report is based on a survey, conducted in March 2022, of more than 500 global OT professionals, including people holding leadership positions responsible for OT and OT security

Findings show that OT activities lack centralised visibility, increasing security risks, as only 13% (Singapore, 12%) of respondents have achieved centralised visibility of all OT activities. 

Only 52% of organisations are able to track all OT activities from the security operations center (SOC).

Also, ownership of OT security is not consistent across organisations, falling within a range of primarily director or manager roles — from the director of plant operations to manager of manufacturing operations.

Only 15% (Singapore, 4%) of survey respondents say that the CISO holds the responsibility for OT security at their organisation.

Further, OT security is gradually improving, but security gaps still exist in many organisations. 

When asked about the maturity of their organisation’s OT security posture, only 21% of organisations have reached level 4, which includes leveraging orchestration and management. 

The report found that a vast majority of organisations use between two and eight different vendors for their industrial devices and have between 100 and 10,000 devices in operation, adding complexity. 

For Singapore, the report found that 88% of Singaporean OT organisations have between 1,000 and 10,000 IP-enabled OT devices in operations. 

Local organisations face challenges with using multiple OT security tools, further creating gaps in their security posture.

As OT systems increasingly become targets for cyber criminals, C-level leaders recognize the importance of securing these environments to mitigate risks to their organisations. 

With the IT threat landscape becoming more sophisticated, connected OT systems have also become vulnerable to these growing threats. This combination of factors is moving industrial security upward in many organisations’ risk portfolio. 

OT security is a growing concern for executive leaders, increasing the need for organisations to move toward full protection of their industrial control system (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

To overcome OT security challenges, Fortinet recommends that firms establish Zero Trust Access to prevent breaches; implement solutions that provide centralized visibility of OT activities; consolidating security tools and vendors to integrate across environments; and deploy network access control (NAC) technology.