SecurityBrief UK - Technology news for CISOs & cybersecurity decision-makers
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Cyber threats prompt UK industries to prioritise cybersecurity
Thu, 28th Mar 2024

A recent survey has unveiled alarming statistics related to the cyber threat the UK's industrial organisations face. The study, "The State of OT Security: A Comprehensive Guide to Trends, Risks, and Cyber Resilience," was conducted by ABI Research and Palo Alto Networks. It examined the experiences of nearly 2,000 senior decision-makers and practitioners in OT/IT cybersecurity. The report states that three-quarters of these organisations are subject to cyber-attacks on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis.

The cyber threat to industrial operations is now more pronounced than ever, as reported by 76% of UK respondents. A significant 26.9% of UK industrial firms reported shutting down operations at least once in the past year due to a successful cyber attack. Not only is the prevalence of these attacks increasing, but their frequency is as well, with attacks happening regularly, even on a daily basis, for many organisations.

The reality of these numbers has pushed cybersecurity to the forefront of priorities for most industrial operators. This is especially true in light of the forthcoming Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) Act. This regulatory pressure is poised to intensify, with the new laws coming into force later this year.

Despite the imminent danger and increasing regulatory pressure, organisations are still grappling with properly implementing cybersecurity frameworks. One pivotal reason behind this struggle is the disconnect between IT (Information Technologies) and OT (Operational Technologies) teams. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that 72% of OT attacks are actually IT-borne.

The survey found that alignment between OT and IT is crucial to elevating cybersecurity measures in industrial operations. A considerable 77% of respondents predict that there will be increased regulatory pressure in the next two years to bolster security in OT environments. Moreover, two-thirds anticipate a surge in internal pressure, predominantly from their board of directors.

Simon Crocker, Senior Director, Systems Engineering, Western Europe Region at Palo Alto Networks, emphasised, "The need for stronger cybersecurity in OT isn't in dispute as cyber-attacks grow in both volume and sophistication. Addressing this challenge requires coordination and consolidation between IT and OT teams. The two teams can't work in isolation. OT and IT security are intrinsically linked, and that requires breaking down the traditional silos and creating a cooperative approach."

The findings of the ABI Research and Palo Alto Networks study shed light on the pressing cybersecurity challenges faced by UK industrial organisations. With cyber threats escalating in frequency and sophistication and regulatory pressures mounting, the imperative for collaborative efforts between IT and OT teams is clear.

As organisations navigate this landscape, bridging the gap between these teams and implementing cohesive cybersecurity frameworks will be essential for safeguarding critical operations against evolving cyber risks. The urgency highlighted by the study underscores the need for proactive measures to enhance cyber resilience in industrial environments in the face of persistent threats.