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  • BTI Communications Group

Ensuring Critical Infrastructure Cyber Security

Physical infrastructure industries are crucial for the functioning of a society and hackers are aware of this. According to the FBI investigation, of 2,385 ransomware attacks reported , 870 hit critical infrastructure organizations.


The threat of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure (CI) is a pressing concern that can have catastrophic consequences for both individuals and businesses.

To safeguard national and global security, it is imperative for CI facilities to implement robust measures that effectively prevent unauthorized access to their networks.


In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What is Critical Infrastructure?

  • How Many US Critical Infrastructure Assets Are There?

  • What Federal Departments Take Care of Each Infrastructure?

  • What is a Cyber Attack?

  • The Most Common Threats Targeted at Critical Infrastructure Assets

  • What Are Some Examples of Cyber Attacks on Critical Infrastructure?

  • How to Ensure Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity in Your Organization

Let’s get right in!


What is Critical Infrastructure?

Critical Infrastructure (CI) encompasses the vital infrastructure that is crucial for the smooth functioning of our society and economy. Safeguarding these CI assets is of utmost importance and is regarded as a top national security priority.


The Patriot Act defines critical infrastructure as "those systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters."

United States flag waving in the wind.

How Many US Critcal Infrastructure Assets Are There?

There are a total of 16 critical infrastructure assets in the US.


Asset

Examples of Related Industries

Chemical Sector

  • Manufacturing transportation, and use of chemicals. ​

Commercial Facility Sector

  • Entertainment

  • Lodging

  • Gaming

  • Outdoor events

Communications Sector

  • ​IT

  • Financial Services

  • Transportation Systems and more.

Critical Manufacturing Sector

  • ​Primary Metals Transportation Equipment Mining, Agricultural and Construction Manufacturing and more.

​Dams Sector

  • ​Essential water and retention services.

​Defense Industrial Base Sector

  • ​Research, development, design, production, delivery, and maintenance of military weapons systems.

​Emergency Services Sector

  • ​Industrial fire departments,

  • Private security organizations,

  • Private emergency medical services providers.

​Energy Sector

  • ​Energy,

  • Oil,

  • Natural Gas

​Food and Agriculture Sector

  • ​Depository institutions,

  • Providers of investment products, insurance companies,

  • Credit and financing and more.

​Government Facilities Sector

  • ​Water & Wastewater System

  • Transportation Systems

  • Energy

  • Chemical

​Health Care & Public Health Sector

  • ​Buildings owned or leased by federal, state, local, and tribal governments

​Information Technology Sector

  • Producer and provide of hardware, software, and information technology systems

  • Communications

​Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste Sector

  • ​Active Reactors

  • Research Reactors & more

Financial Services Sector

  • Depository institutions,

  • Providers of investment products, insurance companies,

  • Credit and financing and more.

​Transportation System Sector

  • Aviation

  • Highway and Motor Carrier

  • Maritime Transportation

  • Mass Transit and Passenger Rail Infrastructure and more.

​Health Care & Public Health Sector

  • Hospitals


What is a Cyber Attack?

A cyber attack refers to an intentional act of targeting an enterprise's use of cyberspace. Its primary objective is to disrupt, disable, destroy, or maliciously control a computing environment/infrastructure. This can also involve compromising the integrity of data or stealing controlled information.

Blurry computer code on a screen.

The 6 Most Common Cyber Attacks Targeted at Critical Infrastructure Assets

Cyberattacks on critical infrastructure are now a major concern for governments, organizations, and society as a whole. The 6 most common cyber attacks targeted at critical infrastructure assets are:


Phishing

Phishing is a deceitful practice that involves sending deceptive emails or messages, pretending to be reputable companies. The main purpose is to trick individuals into revealing personal information like passwords and credit card numbers.


According to IRONSCALES, 81% of organizations around the world have experienced an increase in email phishing attacks since March 2020.


 Example of a phishing attack.

Unpatched vulnerabilities

A patch is a modification made to a program with the purpose of enhancing its security, performance, or other features. Often referred to as a bug fix, a patch addresses imperfections discovered by developers or users. By implementing patches, programs can be updated to ensure optimal functionality and reliability.


Unpatched vulnerabilities let cybercriminals run malicious code by exploiting an unpatched bug. Recent studies show that 84% of companies have high-risk vulnerabilities half of which could be removed with a simple software update while 60% of data breaches are caused by the failure to apply available patches.


Hacker concept art.


Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a deliberate and malicious act to disrupt the normal traffic of a specific server, service, or network. It achieves this by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with an immense flood of internet traffic.


These attacks can have severe consequences, leading to service disruptions, downtime, and potential financial loss.


DDoS attack example.

SQL injection

A SQL injection is an attack vector that injects malicious SQL code into vulnerabilities and can even destroy databases. Over 30% of CI operators reported SQL injection as the cause of a breach


Cybersecurity concept art.

Cross-site scripting

Also known as XSS, cross-site scripting is a method of executing malicious scripts on a legitimate website. Almost 20% of CI operators reported falling for this attack vector.


Internal Threats

Internal actors are involved in nearly 20% of data breaches, making insider threats a critical concern. Detecting these threats can be challenging due to their stealthy nature.

The most common causes of insider incidents are:

  • Negligent employees or contractors (62%)

  • Criminal or malicious insiders (23%)

  • Credential theft (14%)


Delivery man delivering a package to a businesswoman.


Which Federal Entities Take Care of Each Infrastructure?

The US has each federal every federal department looking after the critical infrastructure cyber security of each sector.


​Department

​Sector

Department of Homeland Security

  • ​Chemical

  • Commercial facilities

  • Communications

  • Critical manufacturing,

  • Dams

  • Emergency services

  • Government facilities

  • Information technology

  • Nuclear reactors, materials, and waste

  • Transportation systems

​Department of Defense

​Defense industrial base

​Department of Energy

Energy

Department of The Treasury

Financial Services

​Department of Agriculture

Food and Agriculture

​Department of Health & Human Services

​Healthcare and Public Health

​Department of Transportation

​Transportation Systems

​Environmental Protection Agency

​Water and Wasteland Systems

Some departments may have joint responsibilities due to the nature of the asset.


What Are Some Examples of Cyber Attacks on Critical Infrastructure?

Russian Hacktivists vs European Investment Bank

In June 2023, Several European banking institutions, including the European Investment Bank (EIB), fell victim to a series of cyber attacks perpetrated by pro-Russian hacktivists. These attacks were carried out as a retaliatory measure against Europe's ongoing support of Ukraine. The hacktivists deployed a sophisticated DDoS attack to disrupt the operations of the EIB, causing significant disruption.


Killnet Telegram post after European Investment Bank Cyber attack.

U.S. Government Agencies Fall Victim to Global Cyberattack

In June 2023, Russian-linked hackers targeted several U.S. federal government agencies, including entities within the Department of Energy. The cybercriminals exploited a vulnerability in widely used software, leading to a breach of sensitive information. This development was confirmed by a US cybersecurity agent.


Forbes Headline for The Article U.S. Government Agencies Including Energy Department Targeted in Latest Global Cyberattack

How to Ensure Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity in Your Organization

According to recent studies and projections done by Waterfall there could be up to 15,000 industrial sites shut down due to cyber-attacks within the next five years. That’s why Focusing on critical infrastructure cyber security is crucial to ensure the well-being of your organization. Here are 5 steps to ensure that your cybersecurity measures are on point.


Achieving Secure Remote Access

Unsecured remote access can expose a vulnerable entry point for cybercriminals. That's why it's crucial to implement essential security measures such as network firewalls, endpoint protection, and maintaining good password hygiene.


Close-up lock on a computer.

Developing an Asset Inventory

Critical infrastructure cybersecurity begins with awareness. To protect your valuable assets effectively, it is crucial to have a comprehensive and up-to-date inventory. With a well-organized catalog of all your network assets, you can implement robust security strategies and ensure enhanced protection.


Person creating an inventory on his computer.

Preventing, Discovering and Addressing Vulnerabilities

Operational Technology (OT) and IoT devices used in critical infrastructure are often lacking in security measures. However, you can enhance the security of these devices. Partnering with critical infrastructure cybersecurity specialists such as BTI will allow you to have a team of qualified experts with the tools and knowledge to identify, prevent, and mitigate vulnerabilities.


IT support people working in their office.

Combine OT and IT Networks

When it comes to the security of connected industrial control systems, managing OT (Operational Technology) and IT (Internet Technology) networks together as part of a unified operational platform can significantly reduce risks. We understand that managing these networks can be tedious and time-consuming.


However, BTI’s managed IT services can make it easier for you and help enhance your business's security posture.

Two men remotely monitoring a network.

BTI: The Critical Infrastructure Cyber Security Experts Near Me

With more than 35+ years of experience in cybersecurity, BTI has provided critical infrastructure cyber security services for thousands of organizations across America.


No matter the industry you are in, BTI can provide you with comprehensive critical infrastructure cybersecurity services and support your organization needs for a low cost.

Don’t wait until it's too late. Contact BTI and get a free business assessment!



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