SecurityBrief New Zealand logo
New Zealand's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Critical infrastructure vulnerabilities surge as cybersecurity not up to scratch

By Shannon Williams
Tue 21 Sep 2021

New vulnerabilities in operational technology devices were up 46% in the first half of 2021, putting vital critical infrastructure at risk, a new report has revealed.

Skybox Security has released its annual Mid-Year Vulnerability and Threat Trends Report, offering new threat intelligence research on the frequency and scope of global malicious activity. 

“Critical infrastructure is the backbone of global enterprises and governments. Operational technology enables revenue creation and business continuity. Yet, despite the criticality, the cybersecurity measures in place are still weak or nonexistent,” says Gidi Cohen, CEO and founder, Skybox Security. 

“Experts warned for years that vital infrastructure is a sitting duck and that it was only a matter of time before they came under widespread assault. Now, those predictions have come true.”

To make matters worse, it can be difficult or impossible to identify and remediate OT vulnerabilities through scanning and patching. Nearly all major vendors of OT equipment reported increases in vulnerabilities, especially Siemens. Threat actors are taking advantage of these OT weaknesses in ways that don’t just imperil individual companies but also threaten public safety and the global economy.

Skybox Security threat intelligence analyses exploits in the wild to prioritise vulnerabilities that need remediation. Key findings presented in this mid-year update include:

OT vulnerabilities up 46%

New vulnerabilities in OT devices were up nearly 46% versus H1 2020. These vulnerabilities pose a growing threat to critical infrastructure and other vital systems. Cybercriminals know how indispensable OT assets and their control systems are, and companies will pay hefty ransoms to avoid disruptions and shutdowns.

Exploits in the wild increased by 30%

The number of new vulnerabilities exploited in the wild grew 30% in H1 2021 compared to the same period last year. Interestingly, a growing percentage of these exploits (13% in H1 2021 versus 8% in 2020) are specifically targeting vulnerabilities rated as “medium-severity“ on the CVSS scale. Thus, as new security weaknesses emerge, threat actors are moving quickly to take advantage of them.

Network device vulnerabilities grew by nearly 20%

The number of network devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, and their operating systems, rose nearly 20% in H1 2021. Like OT, these devices are critically important parts of the infrastructure, yet their security flaws are often invisible because they are difficult or impossible to effectively scan. Scanning can impact performance or even shut down systems and is further complicated by the need for special passwords and access privileges.

Ransomware up 20%

Ransomware increased by 20% versus the first half of 2020. Interestingly, new malware overwhelmingly exploited more recent vulnerabilities (vulnerabilities reported in the last 3 years). This clearly indicates that malware creators have new vulnerabilities on their radar and actively develop novel malware to exploit the latest weaknesses.

Cryptojacking more than doubled

Cryptojacking malware, which hijacks computer systems for cryptocurrency mining, more than doubled in comparison to the same period last year. Cryptojacking is just one example of how dynamic an industry malware has become, quickly adapting its offerings and business models to serve emerging markets. In some cases, malware-as-a-service providers lease botnets composed of already-infected machines to cryptominers.

Cumulative number of vulnerabilities grows 3x in 10 years

This cumulative number of vulnerabilities is concerning. The vast majority of vulnerabilities aren’t new, and the older they are, the more time threat actors have had to find and exploit. Old vulnerabilities lurk for years in networks, only to become exposed later, offering rich targets for attackers. Some of the most exploited vulnerabilities are 4 years old or more.

 “The sheer volume of accumulated security debt — hundreds of thousands or even millions of vulnerabilities — means that security teams can’t possibly isolate and patch all of them. Malware evolves like viruses, with new variants springing up opportunistically in response to changing environments,” says Stav Kaufman, lead analyst, Skybox Research Lab. 

“As a result, enterprises need precise, exposure-based solutions that cut through the noise, pinpoint the real security threats and enable practical, cost-effective remediation.”

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Migration
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
Nozomi Networks
Nozomi Networks, Siemens reveal software integration
Nozomi Networks and Siemens have extended their partnership by embedding Nozomi Networks’ software into the Siemens Scalance LPE local processing engine.
Story image
Phishing
Google reveals new safety and security measures for users
Google's new measures include automatic two step verification, virtual cards and making it easier to remove contact information on Google Search results.
Story image
Ransomware
Ingram Micro Cloud adds Bitdefender solutions to marketplace
Ingram Micro Cloud has announced the expanded availability of Bitdefender solutions on the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace.
Story image
Cybersecurity
CyberArk launches $30M investment fund to advance security
CyberArk has announced the launch of CyberArk Ventures, a $30 million global investment fund dedicated to advancing the next generation of security disruptors.
Story image
BeyondTrust
BeyondTrust integrates Password Safe solution with SailPoint
BeyondTrust has announced the integration of BeyondTrust Password Safe with SailPoint identity security offerings.
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
VPN
Palo Alto Networks says ZTNA 1.0 not secure enough
Palo Alto Networks is urging the industry to move to Zero Trust Network Access 2.0 because previous versions have major gaps in security protection.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Datacom, Micro Focus, SnapLogic and VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 6-12, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Hard numbers: Why ambiguity in cybersecurity no longer adds up
As cybersecurity costs and risks continue to escalate, CEOs continue to struggle with what their investment in cyber protection buys. Getting rid of ambiguity becomes necessary.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Microsoft
PwC NZ unveils new Cloud Security Operations Center
PwC New Zealand has unveiled its new Cloud Security Operations Center for the entire Microsoft technology stack.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
ForgeRock releases Autonomous Access solution powered by AI
ForgeRock has officially introduced ForgeRock Autonomous Access, a new solution that uses AI to prevent identity-based cyber attacks and fraud.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Noname Security partners with Netpoleon to target API issues
Specialist API security firm Noname Security has appointed Netpoleon as its distributor in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
ChildFund
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Story image
Remote Working
How zero trust and SD-WANs can support productive remote working
The way people connect with applications and data has changed, users are remotely accessing resources that could be stored anywhere from a corporate data center to the cloud.
Story image
Data Protection
Barracuda launches new capabilities for API Protection
"Every business needs this type of critical protection against API vulnerabilities and automated bot attacks," Barracuda says.
Story image
Ivanti
Ivanti and Lookout bring zero trust security to hybrid work
Ivanti and Lookout have joined forces to help organisations accelerate cloud adoption and mature their zero trust security posture in the everywhere workplace.
Story image
SaaS
Maintaining secure systems with expectations of flexible work
Most office workers feel they've proved they can work successfully from home, and as much as employers try, things aren't going back to the way they were anytime soon.
Story image
Supply chain
Jetstack promotes better security with supply chain toolkit
The web-based resource is designed to help organisations evaluate and plan the crucial steps they need to establish effective software supply chain security.
Story image
Cybersecurity
BlackBerry offers Kaspersky replacement cybersecurity for the channel
BlackBerry advises that users of Kaspersky software in Australia and New Zealand undertake a rigorous risk analysis of their current security posture.
Story image
SaaS
Absolute Software expands Secure Access product offering
Absolute Software is enhancing its Secure Access product portfolio, enabling minimised risk exposure and optimised user experiences in the hybrid working environment.
Story image
Cybersecurity
NCSC advisory highlights poor security configurations
The GCSB's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has released a cyber security advisory identifying commonly exploited controls and practices.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from IronNet
Michael Ehrlich joins us today to discuss the history of IronNet and the crucial role the company plays in the cyber defence space.
Story image
Malware
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Story image
Ransomware
A third of companies paying ransom don’t recover data - report
Veeam's report finds 76% of businesses who are victims of cyberattacks paid the ransom to recover data, but a third were still unable to get their information back.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Booster
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
Digital Transformation
Physical security systems guide the hybrid workplace to new heights
Organisations are reviewing how data gathered from their physical security systems can optimise, protect and enhance their business operations in unique ways.
Story image
Apricorn
Data backup plans inadequate, data still at risk - study
The Apricorn 2022 Global IT Security Survey revealed that while the majority organisations have data backup plans in place, data for many are at risk.
Story image
Customer experience
Gartner recognises Okta for abilities in Access Management
Okta has announced it has been recognised as a Customers' Choice for the fourth time in a row in the Gartner Peer Insights "Voice of the Customer" report.
Story image
SaaS
Rubrik Security Cloud marks 'next frontier' in cybersecurity
"The next frontier in cybersecurity pairs the investments in infrastructure security with data security giving companies security from the point of data."
Story image
Qualys
Qualys updates Cloud Platform solution with rapid remediation
The new update is designed to enable organisations to fix asset misconfigurations, patch OS and third-party applications, and deploy custom software.
Story image
Digital Transformation
How to modernise legacy apps without compromising security
At a time when digital transformation has become central to business, even the most important applications come with a ‘use-by’ date.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Managed service providers: effective scoping to avoid costly vendor pitfalls
Managed security services are outsourced services focusing on the security and resilience of business networks.
Story image
Workato
Workato unveils enhancements to enterprise automation platform
"The extra layer of protection with EKM, zero-logging, and hourly key rotation gives customers a lot more visibility and control over more sensitive data."
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
AI-based email security platform Abnormal Security valued at $4B
"A new breed of cybersecurity solutions that leverage AI is required to change the game and stop the rising threat of sophisticated and targeted email attacks."
Darktrace
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image