Five Hard Truths About Critical Infrastructure Protection

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Keeping up with the onslaught continued

In addition to creating such individualized, stealthy attacks, attackers also have incredible volume and diversity of attacks on their side. Malware has mushroomed into a multi-billion dollar criminal industry, growing from fewer than one million samples a year in 2007 to more than 100 million a year in 2012. In fact, 2012 saw more malware created each month than in the entire 25 years from 1982 to 2007.

Against this scale of attack, enterprises that focus solely on preventing infection are playing a losing game, because attackers' options for infiltration are almost limitless. Enterprises therefore need cost-effective, scalable post-intrusion detection. Managed services options offer scalable, automated solutions that can help offset the cost for many organizations. If an organization has internal security teams, those teams are often small and develop proprietary tools that are crude and can't scale.

Once considered the unthinkable, real-life cyber attacks on critical infrastructure have taken center stage in the past three years. Advancing technologies, evolving cyber threats and a little piece of malware called Stuxnet have catapulted cybersecurity of real-world infrastructure from an academic backwater to a top government and industry priority. From power plants to water treatment sites to traffic control systems, critical infrastructure once thought invulnerable to targeted cyber attacks now lies squarely in the crosshairs.

Over the past two decades, asset owners and operators have added IT systems to help improve management of the ubiquitous industrial control systems (ICS) that perform essential mechanical functions of all kinds. These systems have led to improved service, lower costs and technological marvels such as smart grids. Unfortunately, they have also exposed critical infrastructure to software vulnerabilities that adversaries can exploit through malware and advanced persistent threats (APTs).

Critical infrastructure providers now find themselves in a harrowing position: They must protect both physical and digital assets, but often know less than their adversaries do about those assets' vulnerabilities and how to remediate them. The complexity of IT-enabled critical infrastructure has multiplied the difficulty of protecting it, as have the skyrocketing frequency, sophistication and severity of cyber attacks over the past ten years. Consequences for failure can be catastrophic, but finding the right resources to improve protection can be challenging and expensive – making the decision to invest in security a painful business dilemma.

To protect themselves and their stakeholders from escalating cyber threats, critical infrastructure owners must first acknowledge five hard truths, according to Raju Dodhiawala, vice president and general manager at ManTech.

 

Related Topics : Unisys, Stimulus Package, Security Breaches, Symantec, Electronic Surveillance

 
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