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GCC governments are urged to secure critical national infrastructure in the face of high risk of more sophisticated cyberattacks in the emerging Internet of Things era, industry experts announced today.
As Internet of Things era advances, with IBM predicting 30 billion autonomously connected things by 2020, the field of operational technology -- industrial automation and control systems including power plants, transporting oil and gas, and manufacturing – is becoming increasing connected to networks.
At the same time, connected IT, management systems, and control areas are facing a sharp rise in the number, scale, and sophistication of cyberattacks, according to research firm Gartner. In particular, manufacturing and energy/utilities were two of the top five most-targeted verticals globally in 2014, seeing a combined 23 percent of all cybersecurity incidents, according to a recent report by IBM.
“While GCC governments and organizations are increasingly connecting industrial automation processes for smart intelligence on the back end of organizations, and on the front end citizen services, operational technology is at a rising risk for cybersecurity attacks,” said Asef Sleiman, General Manager, Enterprise Network and Cyber Security Solutions, Omnix International, a GCC-based systems integrator that has recently launched a cybersecurity division.
“In anticipation of this growing cybersecurity risk, GCC organizations must adopt world-class standards and regulations to ensure older integrated systems and sensors transmitting sensitive data are protected from cyberattacks that could steal vita data or shut down cities and countries,” added Asef Sleiman.
Globally, there were more than 81 million security events in 2014, including more than 12,000 malicious security attacks, and more than 100 security incidents that were investigated in-depth, according to IBM’s report. Unauthorized access, sustained probes and scans, and malicious code were among the most common attacks.
Similarly, 29 percent of worldwide infrastructure and government organizations were targeted at least once in 2014, in particular the infrastructure and public administration fields, according to a recent report by Symantec.
With Smart Cities rising across the GCC, cybersecurity attacks could wreak havoc. In one doomsday scenario, cyber criminals could send fake data to sensors to shut down transportation systems or street lights, create fake emergencies, or direct construction crews to intentionally damage utilities, according to a report by Securing Smart Cities, a global initiative for Smart City cybersecurity.
Meeting the growing organizational demand for cybersecurity solutions, Omnix International is set to launch a new set of security services for operational technology in the coming months.
Omnix International also recently achieved ISO 27001:2013 certification in Consultancy and Implementation of IT solutions ranging from Network Infrastructure to Software Solutions, positioning itself as one of the few industry experts in the region, recognized for its world-class Information Security Management System.