Cyber threats to utilities on the rise, firm warns

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Cybersecurity risks to utilities’ systems increased in 2018, with more intrusions into those networks and malware that infected those systems, according to a new report from a threat assessment firm released Thursday.

Dragos, which specializes in industrial cybersecurity, found that the threat for systems such as electric grids have grown over the last year, even without a substantial attack taking place.

{mosads}The firm pointed to one threat actor group known as “Xenotime” as being particularly threatening to the industry systems. And the company warned that compromises of different vendors have likely happened.

The report also highlighted “Living off the Land” tactics — in which an adversary is able to access a system and move through it undetected — as a threat that will continue in the coming years.

“As anti-virus products, detection software, and other threat detection methods become more robust and capable of detecting various malicious activity, adversaries must modify their methods to evade capture by blending in with the environment and not leaving behind identifiable artifacts,” the report states.

In another report released Thursday, Dragos warned that advisories issued about vulnerabilities to industrial systems sometimes don’t get across the full risk of threats, or properly express how to stop them.

Those “vulnerability assessments as published are frightfully inadequate and fail to provide asset owners and operators with meaningful guidance,” the report reads.

“As a community we must learn from real experiences and insights to ensure we are constantly
pushing the security of our industrial infrastructure forward,” Robert M. Lee, the CEO and fo-
founder of Dragos, said in a statement. 

The reports come as experts and lawmaker raise concerns over vulnerabilities to U.S. industrial systems like the power grid.

Officials said in 2017 that Russian actors were able to access U.S. utilities. And the Senate Committee on Energy Natural Resources will hold a hearing Thursday on cybersecurity in the energy industry.


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