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CYBER ATTACKS ON INDUSTRIAL SYSTEMS: COLONIAL PIPELINE INCIDENT IS A RECENT EXAMPLE

In today’s ever growing digital age, Industrial Systems have become targets of malicious attacks that take advantage of their cyber security systems’ existing vulnerabilities. The number and frequency of such cyber related attacks has been increasing worldwide, some even affecting critical infrastructure. A recent example being the USA’s Colonial Pipeline incident.



This cyber-attack was perpetrated by a hacker group which gained access to the company’s network through an allegedly leaked VPN account password. Colonial Pipeline’s systems eventually restricted the hacker’s access, however, it was already too late. The perpetrators had managed to steal hundreds of gigabytes of data as well as install ransomware. This ransomware locked Colonial Pipeline out of their own systems, leaving the company with no choice but to pay the $4.4 million ransom to regain access to their systems.


While the attack itself only affected certain systems, the company had to shut down the rest of their systems as a precaution. With Colonial Pipeline being one of the major distributers of refined oil products in the USA, the adverse effects of the outage were widespread, seriously impacting businesses and everyday consumers.


It is suspected the password in question had been used earlier in another location and became compromised as part of a different data breach. It is important to consistently monitor all systems connected to a network and implement the relevant standards and best practises for IT/OT cyber security.


Now more than ever it is imperative for anyone with networked industrial systems to proactively get their facilities assessed for vulnerabilities and work towards eliminating them. Dickinson Technologies conducts such assessments and in alliance with its Globally Leading Technology Partners, has developed robust industrial cyber security packages that ensure the prevention of possible breaches and in more extreme cases ensure their early identification; avoiding harm.

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