Cyber Attackers Take Aim At Manufacturing Systems

Manufacturing automation and control systems, and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition)systems are being targeted by cyber attackers, due to the weak and often missing security controls on these systems.  Unfortunately, due to the widespread perception that “there is nothing interesting here,” managers of these systems take the attitude that convenience and ease of use is better than security with a little more inconvenience and difficulty.

In 2012, an anonymous researcher created an "Internet Census" tracking all of the open embedded devices on the Internet and creating a virtual map of the world’s 460 million IP addresses, using the Carna Botnet and created this map below:

map of global IP addresses

This map represents the global distribution of the 3.7 billion Internet connected devices and systems across the globe.  About 310 million of these systems were open to attack, with 114,000 of them representing vulnerable manufacturing control systems.  13,000 of these systems could be accessed without needing a password.

Hopefully one of these systems is not the SCADA system that controls your municipal water distribution system, but it could be!  Small governmental entities can be notoriously poor at establishing solid policies for network security.

Or maybe one of these systems is in your small manufacturing business.  The easy access into the systems that control your manufacturing process gives an attacker a way into your network that could allow them access to more important intellectual property or financial systems. It could give them access to the system you use for online banking, which could allow them to empty your bank accounts.

The important take away here is this – no system is too unimportant to be properly secured against Internet borne attacks.  It is no longer a question of “if,” but “when.”

How hackable are you?  Would you like to know?  Most large enterprises, and businesses that are regulated under federal mandates such as HIPPA undergo regular security assessments that are performed by contracted security specialists.  We are recommending to our clients that they hire an IT security expert to perform and security analysis or penetration test.


About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at

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