Cyberthreats on the up at Thai companies

Cyberthreats on the up at Thai companies

New report reveals extent of cyber-risks

Malware, ransomware and hackers were among the top three intrusions faced by Thai firms. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Malware, ransomware and hackers were among the top three intrusions faced by Thai firms. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Some 88% of organisations associated with operational technology (OT) in Thailand experienced cyber-intrusions in the past 12 months, versus 93% globally, according to a report by Fortinet, a global cybersecurity company.

The "Global 2022 State of Operational Technology and Cybersecurity Report" surveyed more than 500 global OT professionals in March this year, including those in Thailand.

"With the IT threat landscape becoming more sophisticated, connected OT systems have also become vulnerable to these growing threats," said Peerapong Jongvibool, vice-president of Fortinet Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

With 88% of OT organisations surveyed in Thailand and 93% of those globally suffering intrusion, "this significantly impacts organisations' productivity and their bottom line", he said.

Among the Thai firms attacked, the top three intrusions were malware, ransomware, and hackers.

Of the Thai firms that were attacked, 53% suffered an operational outage which affected productivity.

Some 89% of the Thai OT organisations facing attacks took up to a few hours to return to service and the remainder took days, weeks or months to do so.

Moreover, 71% of the Thai OT organisations suffered operational outages that put physical safety at risk, more so than productivity loss and revenue loss.

The survey shows 18% of the Thai OT organisations have between 1,000-10,000 IP-enabled devices in operation.

Thai organisations face challenges using multiple OT security tools, further creating gaps in their security posture, said Mr Peerapong.

Thailand recognises that cybersecurity is a serious boardroom issue, with the chief executive being the top influencer of cybersecurity decisions, he noted.

To ensure OT cybersecurity, IT and OT teams need to work together to plan and provide holistic cybersecurity, he said.

John Maddison, executive vice-president of products and chief marketing officer at Fortinet, said this year's result reflects the fact that OT security has the attention of organisational leaders as critical security gaps remain.

"We found that one-third of global respondents saw revenue, data loss, compliance and brand-value impacted as a result of security intrusions," said Mr Maddison.

Programmable logic controllers designed without security, continued intrusions, a lack of centralised visibility across OT activities, and growing connectivity to OT are some of the critical challenges these organisations need to address, he said.

Industrial systems have become a significant risk factor as these environments were traditionally air-gapped from IT and corporate networks, but now these two infrastructures are becoming universally integrated, Mr Maddison said.

With industrial systems now being connected to the internet and more accessible from anywhere, organisations' attack surface is increasingly significant, he noted.

According to Mr Maddison, businesses need to adopt zero-trust access to prevent breaches, implement solutions that provide centralised visibility of OT activities, consolidate security tools and vendors to integrate across environments to guard against intrusions, and employ network access control to protect digital assets.

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