Companies Report 56% Increase in Cybersecurity Threats Driven by IT and OT Networks Convergence, Survey Finds

The COVID-19 pandemic had an interesting effect on the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) networks. The immediate need for secure remote access and better collaboration tools drove a surge in adopting these new technologies, but at a cost. The overall cyber threat jumped by 56 percent worldwide, according to a recent survey from Claroty.

Organizations require more IT and OT networks at a time when working remotely is becoming crucial. The other side of the coin is an attack surface expansion, and threat actors haven’t wasted any time proving just that. 55 percent of all companies believe that they are now more of a target than before the pandemic.

Moreover, cybercriminals were quick to change tactics and adapt to the new norm, as almost 70 percent of all targeted companies said they noticed new strategies and tactics used by threat actors against their organizations.

“On a global basis, five industrial sectors are quite close together at the top of the list – pharmaceutical, oil & gas, electric utilities, manufacturing, and building management systems,” the survey revealed. “With no consensus regarding which industrial sector has been the most vulnerable since the start of the pandemic, this could indicate that they are all equally at elevated risk.”

Or course, 72 percent of IT and OT security professionals report their jobs have become more challenging, a situation that’s exacerbated by the convergence of IT and OT networks. 67 percent of the surveyed companies said that IT and OT networks have become more interconnected since the pandemic began.

“The study reveals that for the majority of organizations the shift to a remote workforce was seamless, but roughly a quarter experienced some sort of difficulties,” the survey also showed. “This can be attributed partially to the lack of a secure remote access solution (aside from a VPN) at the start of the pandemic, as well as a lack of a plan to manage such a scenario.”

The survey covered 1,100 IT and OT security professionals in countries including the US, the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, and was completed in August.