According to new research from Unisys Corporation, nearly 70 percent of companies responsible for critical infrastructure have reported at least one security breach in the past 12 months.

The survey of companies responsible for the world’s power, water and other critical functions was released in partnership with the Ponemon Institute.

The breaches reported led to the loss of confidential information or disruption of operations, Unisys said.

Sixty-four percent of the 599 security executives at utility, oil and gas, energy and manufacturing companies also said they anticipated one or more serious attacks in the coming year.

Still, only 28 percent ranked security as one of the top five strategic priorities for their organization, while a majority named their top business priority as minimizing downtime.

“The findings of the survey are startling, given that these industries form the backbone of the global economy and cannot afford a disruption,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, in a statement about the findings. “While the desire for security protection is apparent among these companies, not nearly enough is actually being done to secure our critical infrastructure against attacks.”

Only one in six respondents describe their organization’s IT security program or activities as mature.

Threats Inside and Out

Respondents who reported suffering a data breach within the past year most often attributed these breaches to an internal accident or mistake, and negligent insiders were the most cited threat to company security. Despite these findings, only 6 percent of respondents said they provide cybersecurity training for all employees.

“Whether malicious or accidental, threats from the inside are just as real and devastating as those coming from the outside,” said Dave Frymier, chief information security officer at Unisys. “We hope the survey results serve as a wake-up call to critical infrastructure providers to take a much more proactive, holistic approach to securing their IT systems against attacks. Action should be taken before an incident occurs, not just after a breach.”

The survey also focused on the security of industrial control systems (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, which monitor and control the processes and operations for power generation and other critical infrastructure functions.

When asked about the likelihood of an attack on their organizations’ ICS or SCADA systems, 78 percent of the senior security officials responded that a successful attack is at least somewhat likely within the next 24 months.

The 599 respondents in the oil and gas, utilities, alternative energy and manufacturing industries are based in 13 different countries.

The full report can be viewed here.

Unisys is a worldwide information technology company.

Ponemon Institute conducts independent research and education that advances information security, data protection, privacy and responsible information management practices within businesses and governments throughout the world.

Source: Unisys Corporation

Topics Trends