Critical infrastructure such as water treatment facilities and electric power plants in the United States have become more vulnerable than ever to a cyberattack. Security perimeters have been stretched with the addition of many kinds of IoT devices at a time when industrial operating systems are increasingly operated remotely, opening up new threat vectors and numerous entry points for attackers.
In the United States alone, there are about 54,000 distinct drinking water systems and many are currently highly vulnerable to ransomware attacks or malicious breaches, as they largely rely on some type of remote access to monitor and/or administer their systems. Many of their facilities are also unattended, particularly during the pandemic. They are generally underfunded, and rarely have anyone watching the IT operations around the clock, meaning any initial breach via an IoT device can get ruthlessly exploited for hours before being detected, placing the targeted facility firmly in the hackers’ hands.
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