Attacks targeting operational technology (OT) such as ICS and IoT devices are still uncommon enough that security professionals haven’t experienced them firsthand.

But according to research for the Cisco 2018 Security Capabilities Benchmark Study, security professionals fully expect such attacks to occur, and are trying to determine how they will respond to them.

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What becomes abundantly clear is security professionals know these systems often have few protections, remain unpatched and have out-of-date software, making them vulnerable to attacks.

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“We still have OT devices that are 25 years old, and compressors and machines that are 40 years old,” said one respondent in the report. “IT professionals are used to the schedule. [They say,] ‘Tell me when Windows X is no longer supported,’ or ‘Hey, this Oracle version is going EOL [end of life].’ There’s no such thing in the OT environment.”

Few security professionals can speak confidently on issues relating to securing OT in their organizations. That is either because they don’t have or anticipate adding much OT, or because IoT implementations are new. Of these professionals, 31 percent said their organizations have already experienced cyber attacks on OT infrastructure, while 38 percent said they expect attacks to extend from IT to OT in the next year.

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