Cyber warfare in 2022 – weaponizing Operational Technology Environment

Cyberwarfare isn't a threat of the future; it is a visible and present menace. Although the cyberwarfare theme may sound like some CGI-integrated modern game or a sci-fi film, the reality is that our linked world is filled with multiple security gaps, which is very unfortunate.

Mobile applications and e-commerce have greatly facilitated consumer convenience due to the digital revolution. Furthermore, expanding the cloud and transitioning to remote work settings benefit productivity and performance. Nevertheless, the contemporary internet gives criminals and political activists a chance to further their goals, whether monetary gain, political influence, or societal unrest.

There have been several reports of operational tech attacks recently, including hardware and software assets such as monitors, control equipment, or assets & processes. Some sources revealed that these attacks were primarily developed from immediate process disruption ranging from shutting down a plant to compromising the integrity of industrial environments with the intent of causing a menace to it.

Cyberwarfare threats can take many forms, some of which are as follows −

Website Defacement

It is a low-level cybercrime that usually targets small websites with poor management and security. Although the perpetrators are frequently young amateur hackers with no malice in their hearts, the propaganda around such incidents is a worrying trend for international relations.

Juvenile pro-Iranian hackers accepted responsibility for the 2020 website defacement, posting their social media usernames with protest notes. For several years, organizations in China and Taiwan carried out reciprocal defacing assaults, throwing gasoline to the flames of an already contentious relationship.

Attacks via Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

DDoS attacks use various devices to concurrently overwhelm the security of an IT network with a flood of data from several sources. Hackers employ this tactic to disrupt the system and deflect security personnel from a more demonic incursion, such as the introduction of Ransomware.

This attack is becoming more common in business settings, particularly in the financial sector. And in the middle of 2021, DDoS attacks targeted 200 institutions in Belgium, including the websites of the government and parliament.

Cyber warfare can be launched by one person, a group of individuals, a corporation, or even a nation-state. Security professionals closely monitor the development of DDoS attacks, examining their sources and how they impact individual companies and entire countries.

Attacks using Ransomware

Ransomware is a sort of malware-malicious software-that prevents victims from accessing computer files, data, or applications unless they pay the attacker. Cybercriminals typically provide an ultimatum: pay the ransom to obtain a decryption code to open their IT systems or lose everything forever.

This rising problem has gone beyond personal attacks, forcing firms to pay millions to extortion groups. Ransomware assaults were more widespread than ever in 2021, affecting everything from pipelines to hospitals. While the bad actors' goals for these assaults are primarily financial, the same strategies may be utilized as a part of a varied array of attacks as part of a comprehensive cyberwarfare campaign.

It is advised that enterprises should implement a framework that should have ten security measures to strengthen security posture across their facilities and avoid incidents on the digital surface from having any negative impact in the real world, such as.

Definitive roles and responsibilities of individuals

Assign an Operational Technologist security manager for every site, who will assign and document security duties and responsibilities for all employees, senior managers, and third parties.

Make sure that adequate training and awareness are provided.

Every Operational Technologist employee must possess the skills required for their job. Employees in every site must be instructed about security risks, the most common attack vectors, and what to do in the security incident event.

Incorporate and evaluate incident response procedures

Ascertain that each facility adopts and upholds an operational technologists-specific security incident management procedure. This procedure consists of four stages: incident planning, attack detection, cyberattack analysis, containment and eradication strategies, and post-incident activities.

Disaster Recovery, Backups, and Restoration

Ascertain that your disaster recovery, backup, and restoration procedures are adequate. Avoid keeping backup data in the exact location as the backed-up system to lessen the effects of natural disasters like wildfire. Additionally, backup copies must be protected from unlawful use or disclosure. The backup must be able to be restored on a new server or virtual machine to handle high-severity circumstances.

Set up Correct Network Isolation

Networks used for operational technology must be physically, logically, and externally segregated from all other networks. All network communication among an OT and any other network component must pass via a secure gateway solution, such as a demilitarized zone (DMZ). To authenticate at the gateway, interaction with OT must employ multi-factor authentication.

Implement Real-Time Detection and Collecting Logs

Appropriate rules or processes for an automatic logging and evaluating prospective and actual security incidents must be in place. These should contain specific retention durations for security logs and safeguards against manipulation or unauthorized alteration.

Implement a Safe Configuration Strategy

Endpoints, servers, network devices, and field devices all require secure settings to be defined, standardized, and deployed. Endpoint security software, like anti-malware, must be enabled and activated on any OT components that support it.

The Formal Patching Procedure

Create a procedure for qualifying patches from equipment makers before deployment. We will only apply the patches once they have been certified and only on the suitable systems and at a specific frequency.

Why Is 2022 a Game-Changer in Cybersecurity?

The most significant distributed Amazon stopped the denial of service (DDoS) assault in February 2020. However, as we approach 2022, we must consider more than just e-commerce security. Political discontent between numerous superpowers has already had some media sources expressing forecasts of a "Cyber Cold War."

To create a global Counter-Ransomware Initiative, the United States sponsored a meeting in October 2021 with participation from 30 nations. The online discussion of the National Security Council was the first important step in forging a unified defensive front and engaging law enforcement on serious cybersecurity risks, such as the unauthorized use of bitcoin.


Imagine learning that your nation has been the subject of a significant, well-coordinated cyberattack when you turn on the television in the morning. Banks, energy and utility firms, transportation hubs, and hospitals have all been affected by interruptions brought on by hackers who have penetrated the highest levels of the government and critical infrastructure.

While it may appear unlikely, this situation is feasible today. As technology progresses and political turbulence shatters international connections, particularly between powerful countries, businesses must do more to secure their systems.

Cyberspace warfare is unpredictable and hard to observe. Nevertheless, security teams learn something from every incident. Before an actual disaster occurred, many warned OpenSea and Poly Network about their vulnerabilities. Governmental organizations might not be so lucky.