Report: New Operational Technology Threat Puts Organisations at High Risk

Report: New Operational Technology Threat Puts Organisations at High Risk

Emma Okonji

Microsoft, on Tuesday, released its latest Cyber Signals Report at a virtual press conference, where it exposed how a new cyber threat is putting organisations and technology teams at high risk.

The Microsoft’s latest Cyber Signals report highlights how cybercriminals are using Operational Technology (OT) as gateways into an organisation’s network, According to the report, the new threat comes at a time when emerging technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) connections in the region are growing, just as the GSM Association (GSMA) predicts that about 1.1 billion IoT connections are expected by 2025 in Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

It’s this growth in OT and IoT that has given cybercriminals more opportunities to breach an organisation’s network, the report further said.

Microsoft  Cyber Signals report, is a regular cyber threat intelligence brief spotlighting security trends and insights gathered from Microsoft’s 65 trillion daily security signals and 8,500 security experts. The latest edition has found that converging Information Technology (IT), Internet of Things and OT systems, pose a wider risk to critical infrastructure. 

For Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), the impact of a possible security breach is top of mind in an increasingly complex threat environment. This can be seen in the 11.2 per cent rise in cybersecurity spending in the Middle East and North Africa for 2022, the report added.  

“The growing rate of digital transformation within the African region is facilitating the emergence of new attack vectors and opportunities for cybercriminals. For Nigerian CIOs the consequences of a possible security breach is their number one concern as they look to navigate an increasingly complex threat and regulatory landscape. This is according to the Enterprise Security Trends in Nigeria survey, conducted by the IDC and commissioned by Microsoft. Nigerian organisations realise the importance of developing a proactive approach to security. The IDC survey revealed that 72 per cent of organisations in Nigeria have increased security budgets by 10 per cent or more in the last few years,” the report further said.

It explained that the increase in digital transformation across the region would enabled organisations to manage their buildings, emergency systems and access control with smart devices connected to a network.

“In addition, we have seen an increase in IoT devices in the workplace to better enable hybrid work such as smart conference rooms with microphones and cameras.  As the threat landscape continues to expand and become more complex, organisations need to re-think their cyber risk approach to stay one step ahead of would-be attackers, the report said.

Analysing the report, Country Manager for Microsoft Nigeria and Ghana, Ola Williams, said: “Organisations are more connected than ever before. From the humble Wi-Fi router to the everyday office printer, IT teams need to view their IoT devices differently and secure them as they would any company laptop to prevent security breaches. Gaining complete visibility of an organisation’s OT systems and protecting its IoT solutions will go a long way in preventing cyberattacks.” 

Microsoft enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge, with a mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.

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