UK faces growing cyber threat to critical infrastructure

UK faces growing cyber threat to critical infrastructure

The UK's critical infrastructure is under constant attack from cyber threats, a new report from the Ponemon Institute has revealed.

According to the institute's Cybersecurity in Operational Technology report, half of all organisations reliant on operational technology – systems used to control aspects of manufacturing, transportation and utilities – have suffered downtime as a result of online attacks in the last two years.

The report is based on the responses of 701 representatives at organisations in the US, UK, Germany, Australia, Mexico and Japan .

It found that 50 per cent of all respondents reported at least one attack against critical systems in the last 24 months, with the most common damaging event being an employee falling for a phishing scam that resulted in a breach of credentials.

Other major incidents included infection by malware (37 per cent), nation-state attacks (23 per cent) and cyber extortion, such as ransomware (21 per cent).

Overall, 90 per cent of organisations experienced at least one damaging attack during this period, with more than one in ten (11 per cent) reporting eight incidents or more.

A main driver of the current situation has been a lack of sufficient visibility into the "attack surface" of many organisations, the report claimed.

It revealed how just 20 per cent of respondents 'agreed' or 'agreed strongly' with the statement that they have adequate oversight in this area at present.

Meanwhile, an ongoing shortage of cyber security professionals in the sector remains a key issue for those businesses reliant on operational technology to face up to.

Indeed, the report concluded that cyber defences must be strengthened in the months and years to come if critical infrastructure is to be better protected.