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How Malware Can Impact OT Networks

Malware Impact on OT Networks

Malware, or malicious software, can have a serious impact on operational technology (OT) networks, which are used to control and monitor industrial processes. Some ways in which malware can impact OT networks include:

  1. Disrupting operations: Malware can disrupt the normal functioning of OT systems, causing production downtime, equipment damage, and financial losses. For example, malware could cause control systems to malfunction, leading to equipment damage or even physical harm to personnel.
  2. Stealing sensitive information: Malware can also be used to steal sensitive information from OT networks, such as intellectual property, trade secrets, or confidential data. This can result in financial losses and damage to a company’s reputation.
  3. Gaining unauthorized access: Malware can also be used to gain unauthorized access to OT systems, allowing cyber criminals to take control of the systems and manipulate them for their own purposes. This could include shutting down production, changing process parameters, or even causing physical harm.
  4. Spreading to other systems: Malware can also spread from an infected OT system to other systems on the network, potentially compromising multiple systems. This can make it more difficult to isolate and remove the malware, and can increase the overall impact of the attack.
  5. Creating backdoors: Some malware is specifically designed to create backdoors in the system, to make it easier for attacker to access the network again. This can make it more difficult to remove the malware and secure the network in the future.

Malware can be introduced to OT networks in a variety of ways, such as through phishing emails, infected USB drives, unsecured remote access, and insider threats. Therefore having a robust security strategy in place, including regular monitoring and updating of systems, employee education, and incident response plan are crucial for protecting OT networks from malware.

Zero Trust to Increase Malware Prevention

A zero trust solution is a security approach that assumes that all network traffic, whether it originates within the network or from outside, should be treated as untrusted until proven otherwise. This approach can help prevent malware attacks on operational technology (OT) networks in several ways:

  1. Verifying user and device identity: Zero trust solutions may include multi-factor authentication (MFA) or mutual authentication to verify the identity of users and devices before they are allowed to access the network or communicate with each other. This can help prevent unauthorized access by malware that is attempting to impersonate a legitimate user or device.
  2. Monitoring network traffic: Zero trust solutions often include network monitoring and traffic analysis capabilities to detect and alert on suspicious activity. This can help identify and respond to malware that has infiltrated the network, and prevent it from causing damage to other devices and systems.
  3. Conditional access: Zero trust solution also allow only specific users to access certain parts of the network based on their roles, this prevents the malware from spreading to sensitive parts of the network.

Zero trust is a comprehensive approach that helps to prevent malware and also protect the network from various other types of attack and threats This makes it an effective solution for protecting OT networks, which are often targeted by cyber criminals due to their critical role in industrial processes.

ICS / OT Malware in 2023

How are hackers attacking industrial systems in 2023? There are new malware programs such as Industroyer 2, Incontroller (or Pipedream).

A U.S. government alert warned that Incontroller can take over and control critical devices, even allowing attackers to see a view of the control screens and remotely run the machines.