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Report reveals Aussie organisations struggling to implement IIoT/OT security projects

Barracuda has found that 90 per cent of Aussie organisations surveyed in their report, titled The State of Industrial Security in 2022, have “failed IIoT/OT security projects”.

user iconReporter
Fri, 15 Jul 2022
Report reveals Aussie organisations struggling to implement IIoT/OT security projects
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The report, commissioned by Barracuda, surveyed 800 senior IT managers, senior IT security managers, and project managers globally, including 100 in Australia, who were responsible for industrial internet of things (IIoT)/operational technology (OT) in their organisations.

Security breaches have shown to have impact beyond financial strain as these result in significant downtime with long-lasting breach impact. The research shows that critical infrastructure is under attack, businesses are facing some significant challenges as the geopolitical landscape becomes increasingly tense.

According to Tim Jefferson, SVP, engineering for data, networks and application security at Barracuda, despite agreement that IIoT and OT security are critical, these have been left lacking attention.


"In the current threat landscape, critical infrastructure is an attractive target for cyber criminals, but unfortunately IIoT/OT security projects often take a backseat to other security initiatives or fail due to cost or complexity, leaving organisations at risk.

"Issues such as the lack of network segmentation and the number of organisations that aren't requiring multifactor authentication leave networks open to attack and require immediate attention," Jefferson said.

Based on the research, Australian data has shown that:

  • Attacks are widespread: 90 per cent of organisations surveyed acknowledged experiencing a security incident in the last 12 months.
  • Geopolitical concerns: 96 per cent of respondents are very or fairly concerned about the impact that the current threat landscape and geopolitical situation will have on their organisations.
  • Breaches are impacting operations: 84 per cent of organisations that experienced an incident were impacted for more than one day.
  • Only 12 per cent of Australian companies surveyed restrict network access and enforce multi-factor authentication when it comes to remote access to OT networks.
  • Critical verticals like energy (38 per cent) allow full remote access without MFA for external users.
  • Less than half of Australian organisations surveyed can handle applying security updates themselves (44 per cent).

With 96 per cent of Aussie business leaders noting that their organisation needs to increase their investment in industrial security, and 74 per cent of organisations implied that IIoT/OT security projects have either been "already implemented" or are "in the process of being implemented", many are facing significant challenges when it comes to implementation, including basic cyber hygiene.

According to Barracuda's research, Aussie retail organisations are leading with IIoT/OT security implementation with 73 per cent having completed projects compared to 56 per cent in oil and gas having completed such projects. Only 29 per cent in manufacturing and none of those surveyed in healthcare have completed projects.

For organisations with completed IIoT and OT security projects, 100% of research respondents have experienced no impact at all from a major incident. Organisations are hit the worst when security updates are not automatic, and while IIoT and OT security continue to be a major target for attackers, there is hope for businesses that take a proactive approach.

Barracuda advises that businesses should implement tools to combat these challenges, including the use of secure endpoint connectivity devices and ruggedised network firewalls, all centrally deployed, managed via a secure cloud service that can enable effective network segmentation, advanced threat protection, as well as provide multifactor authentication and implement Zero Trust Access.

Klaus Gheri, VP network security at Barracuda further explained that IIoT attacks go beyond the digital realm and can have real-world implications.

"As attacks continue to rise across industries, taking a proactive security approach when it comes to industrial security is critical for businesses to avoid being the next victim of an attack."

[Related: SMEs face fines for failing to report cyber attacks]

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