The COVID-19 pandemic is making the maritime and offshore energy sectors more vulnerable to cyber-attack, with Naval Dome citing a 400% increase in attempted hacks since February 2020.
While an increase in malware, ransomware and phishing emails exploiting the Covid-19 crisis is the primary reason behind the spike, Naval Dome furthers that travel restrictions, social distancing measures and economic recession are beginning to bite into a company’s ability to sufficiently protect itself.
The global crisis and social distancing measures are preventing OEM technicians flying out to ships and rigs to upgrade and service critical OT systems, resulting in operators circumventing established security protocols, leaving them open to attack.
As budgets are cut and in the absence of service engineers, we are seeing ship and offshore rig staff connecting their OT systems to shoreside networks, at the behest of OEMs, for brief periods of time to carry out diagnostics and upload software updates and patches themselves
Naval Dome CEO Itai Sela said.
This means that their IT and OT systems are no longer segregated and individual endpoints, critical systems and components may be susceptible. Some of these are legacy systems which have no security update patches and are even more susceptible to cyber attack.
More specifically, during the first three months of 2020, attacks targeting home workers increased tenfold, while PC security software provider McAfee has reported that that between January and April cloud-based cyber-attached on all businesses increase by 630%.
In addition, the economic downturn and the drop in the price of crude oil is also having an effect, with oil companies and contractors being faced with limited budgets available to implement effective cyber security measures.
Companies are stretched thin and this is benefitting the hacker. It is not sufficient to protect only networks from attack,” said Sela. “Each individual system must be protected. If networks are penetrated, then all connected systems will be infected
concluded Naval Dome’s CEO.