Intelligent Utility looks at defending SCADA systems against the growing cyber threat:
According to a new report by Dell Security, cyber attacks on supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems doubled last year–and they’ve increased 600% since 2012. As alarming as those statistics are, another key finding is even more troubling–physically disruptive attacks are becoming increasingly common. In fact, 25% of all cyber incidents last year were a specific type of attack that can flood SCADA systems and shut down mechanical devices, potentially disrupting physical operations. These attacks are expected to worsen over the next few months and years–and the US is the third most targeted country in the world. The Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) similarly found that critical infrastructure attacks are up, the energy industry is the most heavily targeted sector of all (32% of attacks) and “denial-of-service” attacks have become a favorite of attackers.
There are three reasons why sophisticated attacks are occurring more frequently: hacktivists, hackers with ties to foreign governments and organized crime. Electric utilities are a prime target for all three of these groups, whose motivations range from political activism and geopolitics to profiteering, and we should expect these attacks to worsen over the next few years.
This is the space to watch: SCADA attacks are increasing in frequency and at some time in the future we will reach a tipping point. Stuxnet was just the beginning.