More than seven in ten surveyed adults (72 percent) across Australia say they are fearful that cyber hackers are carrying out attacks on major industries and sectors of the economy in their country, according to the results of a 10-country study announced by Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS), a leader in automation and control systems for a variety of industries.
More than half of Australian respondents (57 percent) indicated they do not believe that it is possible to stop all the cyber attacks and they will continue to attack until they find a way to get past any security. More than a third (36 percent) don’t feel that government and organisations are taking these threats seriously enough.
“Cyber attacks are a clear and present threat to every industry, in every country throughout the world,” said Michael Chertoff, co-founder and executive chairman of the Chertoff Group, and former head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “This threat is real and industries need a proactive and coordinated approach to protect their assets as well as their intellectual property. We have seen a number of attacks to critical industries in areas like the Middle East and the U.S. and these have had major impacts on their operations.”
The British government estimates that cyber security breaches at British energy companies alone cost those companies about 400 million pounds ($664 million) every year. In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security said that more than 40 percent of industrial cyber attacks targeted the energy industry in 2012, the last full year reported.
“These survey results are not surprising in light of the recent cyber attacks that have made headlines in several areas around the world,” said Jeff Zindel, leader of HPS’ Industrial Cyber Security business. “The impacts of these attacks, as well as others that have not been publicly reported, have cost companies and governments billions of dollars through operational issues and loss of intellectual property.”
For more than a decade, HPS has developed and delivered cyber security technology and solutions to industrial customers around the world through its Honeywell Industrial Cyber Security organisation. This team has delivered more than 500 industrial cyber security projects integrated with its process automation solutions which are used at sites such as refineries, chemical plants, gas processing units, power plants, mines and mills.
In December 2014, HPS will establish the Honeywell Industrial Cyber Security Lab near Atlanta, Georgia. The lab will expand the company’s research capabilities and will feature a model of a complete process control network which Honeywell cyber security experts will leverage to develop, test and certify industrial cyber security solutions. This lab will help accelerate proprietary research and development of new cyber technologies and solutions to help defend industrial facilities, operations and people.
Among other findings of the survey:
- One third (33 percent) of Australian respondents said they think the cyber security risk has been overblown by the media. Of the countries surveyed only Great Britain had a higher percentage (38 percent) believing the media has over reacted.
- When asked about the vulnerability of nine critical industry sectors (which have varying degrees of computer and internet security systems in place to guard against cyber hackers), majorities of respondents globally see all sectors as being vulnerable to cyber attacks. Industrial sectors likely to be perceived as vulnerable to such attacks include oil and gas production (64 percent), medical/health care/pharmaceuticals (64 percent), power grid (63 percent), chemicals (61 percent) and aerospace/defense (59 percent).
- Those in India (92 percent) and Japan (89 percent) are most worried about cyber attacks, whereas Russian adults (53 percent) express the lowest level of overall concern.
- Among those who are relatively unconcerned about cyber hackers (“not very fearful” or “not at all fearful”), no single factor stands out as a primary justification. Globally, many (31 percent) say that this is because they believe the risk of something major actually happening is really quite low, particularly in Australia (52 percent).
Other reasons for lower levels of concern include:
- Cyber hackers would have already done something big if they actually had these capabilities (25 percent)
- Computer and Internet security has been able to counter or block almost all of the threats (24 percent) or,
- Governments and its intelligence and armed forces will not let this happen (24 percent).