Industrial control systems (ICS) are designed to operate and support critical infrastructure. They are used heavily in industrial areas such as energy and utilities, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and chemical production, food and beverage, and manufacturing. Attacks on such systems can cause major damage. The 2015 hack of Ukraine’s power grid caused a blackout that affected over 200,000 people.

Whether ransomware, botnets, cryptominers, or something more destructive, malware targeting such systems continues to proliferate. According to Kaspersky Labs, over 40 percent of ICS computers it monitors were attacked by malicious software at least once during the first half of 2018.

According to a new report from CyberX, industrial organizations are doing themselves no favors and making themselves easy targets. The report, 2019 Global ICS & IIoT Risk Report, analyzed real-world network traffic data from more than 850 production ICS networks worldwide to get a view into existing vulnerabilities in ICS environments.

“The data clearly shows that industrial control systems continue to be soft targets for adversaries,” said the report. “Many sites are exposed to the public internet and trivial to traverse using simple vulnerabilities like plain-text passwords. Lack of even basic protections like automatically updated anti-virus enables attackers to quietly perform reconnaissance before sabotaging physical processes such as assembly lines, mixing tanks, and blast furnaces.”

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