Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

9/24/2020
12:15 PM
Dark Reading
Dark Reading
Products and Releases
100%
0%

Attacks Against Building Automation, Oil and Gas Industries Up in First Half of 2020

Growth was likely driven by a more targeted attack approach from cybercriminals, according to Kaspersky.

Woburn, MA – September 24, 2020 – According to Kaspersky research, over the first six months of 2020, the percent of systems attacked in the oil and gas as well as the building automation industries increased when compared to H1 and H2 2019. Growth in these sectors occurred as the percent of industrial control system (ICS) computers attacked in other industries declined as cybercriminals shifted their focus to distributing more targeted and focused threats.

Attacks against industrial organizations always carry the potential to be particularly devastating, both in terms of disruption to production and financial losses. In addition, attacks against industrial enterprises have become more targeted, organized by sophisticated threat actors with extensive resources whose goals may not just be financial gain but also cyberespionage.

This past winter, spring and early summer, the industries most prone to attacks were building automation and oil and gas. Attacks against the latter have the potential to be catastrophic given the massive financial losses already incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The percentage of ICS computers on which malicious objects were blocked grew from 38% in H2 2019 to 39.9% in H1 2020 in the building automation industry and 36.3 to 37.8% in the oil and gas industry.

Building automation systems tend to be more often exposed to attacks. They often have a larger attack surface than traditional ICS computers because they are frequently connected to corporate networks and the Internet. At the same time, because they traditionally belong to contractor organizations, these systems are not always managed by the organization’s corporate information security team, making them an easier target.

The growth percentage of ICS computers attacked in the oil and gas industry can be traced back to the development of a variety of worms (malicious programs that self-replicate on the infected device) written in script languages, specifically Python and PowerShell. These worms are able to gather authentication credentials from the memory of system processes using different versions of the Mimikatz utility. From the end of March to mid-June 2020, a large number of these worms were detected, primarily in China and the Middle East. 

The increase in the percent of ICS systems attacked in the oil and gas and building automation industries was the exception for the first half of 2020, as the percent of systems attacked in most other industries declined. This occurred as attackers appeared to shift their focus from mass attacks to distributing more focused and targeted threats, including backdoors (dangerous Trojans that gain remote control over the infected device), spyware (malicious programs designed to steal data) and ransomware attacks (which tend to target specific enterprises). In fact, there were noticeably more families of backdoors and spyware built on the .NET platform that were detected and blocked on ICS computers. The percent of ICS computers affected by ransomware grew slightly in H1 2020 when compared to H2 2019 across all industries, with a series of attacks witnessed against medical facilities and industrial companies.

Industrial companies were also the victim of sophisticated campaigns by advanced persistent threat (APT) actors.

“The percent of ICS computers attacked across most industries is declining, however there are still threats to specific industries that are on the rise,” said Evgeny Goncharov, security expert at Kaspersky.  “The more targeted and sophisticated attacks are, the greater potential they have to cause significant damage—even if they occur less frequently. What’s more, with many enterprises forced to work remotely and sign-in to corporate systems from home, ICS have naturally become more exposed to cyberthreats. With fewer on-sight personnel, there are fewer people available to respond and mitigate an attack, meaning the consequences may be far more devastating. Given that the oil and gas and building automation infrastructures appear to be a popular target among attackers, it’s crucial that these system owners and operators take extra security precautions.”

Learn more about the industrial threat landscape for H1 2020 on ICS CERT.

To keep your ICS computers protected from various threats, Kaspersky experts recommend:

  • Regularly update operating systems and application software that are part of the enterprise’s industrial network. Apply security fixes and patches to ICS network equipment as soon as they are available.
  • Conduct regular security audits of OT systems to identify and eliminate possible vulnerabilities.
  • Use ICS network traffic monitoring, analysis and detection solutions for better protection from attacks potentially threatening technological process and main enterprise assets.
  • Dedicated ICS security training for IT security teams and OT engineers is crucial to improve response to new and advanced malicious techniques.
  • Provide the security team responsible for protecting industrial control systems with up-to-date threat intelligence. ICS Threat Intelligence Reporting service provides insights into current threats and attack vectors, as well as the most vulnerable elements in OT and industrial control systems and how to mitigate them.
  • Use security solutions for OT endpoints and network such as Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity to ensure comprehensive protection for all industry critical systems.
  • It is no less important to protect IT infrastructure as well. Integrated Endpoint Security protects corporate endpoints and enables automated threat detection and response capabilities.

 

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 10/23/2020
7 Tips for Choosing Security Metrics That Matter
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  10/19/2020
Russian Military Officers Unmasked, Indicted for High-Profile Cyberattack Campaigns
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  10/19/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-24847
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
A Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability is identified in FruityWifi through 2.4. Due to a lack of CSRF protection in page_config_adv.php, an unauthenticated attacker can lure the victim to visit his website by social engineering or another attack vector. Due to this issue, an unauthenticat...
CVE-2020-24848
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
FruityWifi through 2.4 has an unsafe Sudo configuration [(ALL : ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL]. This allows an attacker to perform a system-level (root) local privilege escalation, allowing an attacker to gain complete persistent access to the local system.
CVE-2020-5990
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
NVIDIA GeForce Experience, all versions prior to 3.20.5.70, contains a vulnerability in the ShadowPlay component which may lead to local privilege escalation, code execution, denial of service or information disclosure.
CVE-2020-25483
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
An arbitrary command execution vulnerability exists in the fopen() function of file writes of UCMS v1.4.8, where an attacker can gain access to the server.
CVE-2020-5977
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-23
NVIDIA GeForce Experience, all versions prior to 3.20.5.70, contains a vulnerability in NVIDIA Web Helper NodeJS Web Server in which an uncontrolled search path is used to load a node module, which may lead to code execution, denial of service, escalation of privileges, and information disclosure.