Honeywell has found the number of cyber threats that use USB sticks and other external media devices as a launch point doubled during 2021.
According to Cyberscoop, the Honeywell report found that of those threats, 79% could be used to impact operational technology systems.
Elsewhere, 51% of the threats establish remote access, 37% are malware designed to leverage USB and 30% increase year-over-year of USB use in production facilities.
The report was constructed around cybersecurity threat data amassed from hundreds of industrial facilities over a one-year period. It advised that companies should adopt security policies for removable media.
In 2018, research from Honeywell found that over 20 industrial sites worldwide detected malicious files from USB storage devices. Last year, researchers learned a financially motivated hacking group aimed to infect targets by sending USB devices in the mail.
Researchers have also noted a rise in ransomware attacks against industrial targets such as manufacturing and energy providers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Honeywell Connected Enterprise director of cybersecurity research Eric Knapp said, “USB-borne malware was a serious and expanding business risk in 2020, with clear indications that removable media has become part of the playbook used by organized and targeted attacks, including ransomware.
“Because there are so many strains, individually they look small. However, when we looked at malware capabilities a clear trend emerged: significant numbers of the threats were capable of crossing an air gap, establishing remote access, and disruption operations.”
The report can be read in full here.
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