Cybersecurity Data Reveals Doubling Of USB Threats Over 12 Months

July 13, 2020
Honeywell cybersecurity research indicates the risk of USB threats to industrials has doubled over 12 months.

In a report released by Honeywell based on cybersecurity threat data collected from hundreds of industrial facilities globally, the severity of threats detected to operational technology (OT) systems has risen by significant amounts over a 12-month period. The findings from the latest Honeywell Industrial USB Threat Report show that the total amount of threats posed by USB removable media to industrial process control networks remains consistently high, with 45% of locations detecting at least one inbound threat. Over the same time period, the number of threats specifically targeting OT systems nearly doubled from 16% to 28%, while the number of threats capable of causing a loss of view or other major disruption to OT systems more than doubled, from 26% to 59%.

The report shows that 1 in 5 of all threats was designed specifically to leverage USB removable media as an attack vector, and more than half the threats were designed to open backdoors, establish persistent remote access or download additional malicious payloads. These findings are indicative of more coordinated attacks, likely attempting to target air-gapped systems used in most industrial control environments and critical infrastructure.

“USB-borne malware continues to be a major risk for industrial operators,” says Eric Knapp, director of cybersecurity research and engineering fellow, Honeywell Connected Enterprise, Cybersecurity. “What’s surprising is that we’re seeing a much higher density of significant threats that are more targeted and more dangerous. This isn’t a case of accidental exposure to viruses through USB – it’s a trend of using removable media as part of more deliberate and coordinated attacks.”

The Honeywell Industrial USB Threat Report examines data collected from Honeywell’s Secure Media Exchange (SMX) technology, which is designed to scan and control removable media, including USB drives. As the second most prevalent attack vector into industrial control and automation systems, USB devices play an important role in attacks that target OT systems. In recent years, such attacks have included Disttrack, Duqu, Ekans, Flame, Havex, Industroyer, USBCulprit and others.

For more information, visit: www.honeywell.com

Sponsored Recommendations

Keys to Improving Safety in Chemical Processes (PDF)

Many facilities handle dangerous processes and products on a daily basis. Keeping everything under control demands well-trained people working with the best equipment.

Comprehensive Compressed Air Assessments: The 5-Step Process

A comprehensive compressed air audit will identify energy savings in an air system. This paper defines the 5 steps necessary for an effective air audit.

Get Hands-On Training in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment

Enhance the training experience and increase retention by training hands-on in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment. Build skills here so you have them where and when it matters...

Managing and Reducing Methane Emission in Upstream Oil & Gas

Measurement Instrumentation for reducing emissions, improving efficiency and ensuring safety.