LONDON, 6th March 2023 - In H2 2022, Kaspersky security solutions blocked malware from 7,684 different families on industrial automation systems, such as building automation, automotive, oil and gas, energy and engineering. This number is slightly more (6%) compared with the previous half of the year and almost 1.5 times more than in the second half of 2021. Overall, the 2022 ended up being the year that accounts for the highest percentage of OT computers affected by malware (40.6%).
Number of malware families blocked on ICS computers
In terms of malware categories, only the two top rankings showed growth in the second half of 2022, namely – malicious scripts and phishing pages (JS and HTML), which are distributed both online and via email, anddenylisted internet resources, which are used to distribute malicious scripts and phishing pages.
In the UK, the percentage of malicious scripts blocked on ICS computers was 4.9%, followed by 3.4% of denylisted internet resources. Spyware, which is used for unauthorized remote access to deliver next-stage payloads such as ransomware, was the third most common attack, which was blocked on 1.7% of OT machines.
Threat actors use malicious scripts for a broad range of tasks – from collecting information, tracking activity, and redirecting browser requests to malicious web resources, to downloading various malicious programs or loading malware (spyware or tools for covert cryptocurrency mining) in the user’s browser.
Percentage of ICS computers* in which the activity of malicious objects from different categories was prevented
Unexpectedly, Northern Europe became the only region that showed a growth in ransomware attacks and malware spread via email clients. When observing other geographical regions, Middle East remain the region that is highly affected by ransomware attacks and being number 3 in the TOP regions ranked by percentage of ICS computers on which malicious email attachments and phishing links were blocked, while Africa, ME, Asia and LatAm top regional rankings with most OT computers compromised using removable devices.
The situation varied in different industries. As for H2 2022, the automotive industry (+4.6 p.p.) and energy sector (+1 p.p.) showed growth in terms of the OT computers that were affected. In other industries tracked, the percentage decreased.
“Overall, 2022 stands out for its abnormal absence of any seasonal changes. Our team observed a steadily high rate of attacks on industrial sectors – without a typical drop in attacks during summer vacations or winter holidays period. However, the growing attack rates in industrial sectors, that are being conducted using social engineering, seem alarming. We strongly recommend customers in these sectors to revise their existing approach to security and check whether all security systems are up-to-date and their personnel is well-trained,” comments Kirill Kruglov, senior researcher at Kaspersky ICS CERT.
Percentage of ICS computers in which malicious objects were blocked in some industries
Read more about the ICS threat landscape in H2 2022 on the Kaspersky ICS CERT website.
To keep your OT computers protected from various threats, Kaspersky experts recommend: