The threat of cyberattacks for enterprises across sectors is rapidly growing as they are adopting new technologies and digital solutions to enhance their operations. According to the government, over 607,000 cybersecurity incidents were observed in the country during the first half of 2021. Further, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) reported a total of 394,499, 1,158,208 and 607,220 cybersecurity incidents during 2019, 2020 and 2021 (up to June) respectively.
Given the rise in cyberattacks on enterprises, it is imperative that companies across verticals strengthen their security systems and make them as impenetrable as possible. They must focus on preventive measures and undertake monitoring at regular intervals.
A look at how the cybersecurity landscape is unfolding across sectors, new security tools and solutions being adopted by enterprises, and the way forward…
Cyberthreat landscape across sectors
The convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) systems, and rapid adoption of IoT technologies can optimise production, drive innovation and increase efficiency. However, it also increases the attack surface due to increased connectivity and more connected intelligent devices. As enterprises in the manufacturing sector are moving towards Industry 4.0, the need to tighten security around their networks and systems is also becoming more prominent. While Industry 4.0 technologies bring about substantial efficiencies and cost savings, they do not come without risk. In industrial environments, Industry 4.0 technologies and solutions can enable companies to control dozens of different geographically dispersed entities. This can introduce unknown risks into the OT environment, which can, in turn, put manufacturing operations at risk.
The lack of good cybersecurity protocols within most OT infrastructures along with a lack of IT security skills among operators has made manufacturers high-value targets for cybercriminals. Owing to these loopholes, the manufacturing sector has witnessed several cyberattacks lately. In fact, recent market reports suggest that the manufacturing sector was the second-most attacked sector in 2020. This is a clear indication that malicious actors are leveraging vulnerabilities in these increasingly intertwined infrastructures.
Following demonetisation in 2016, there has been a massive increase in the uptake of digital payment services by consumers. Consequently, this has widened the threat landscape in the BFSI sector. As per industry experts, the financial sector faces almost three times the number of cyberattacks as other industries.
In India, BFSI institutions still do not acknowledge the importance and implications of cybersecurity. Security breaches, data thefts, compromised passwords are some common forms of cyberattacks that are of great concern to BFSI enterprises in the country. As times are changing and technology is becoming more advanced, so are the cybercriminals. They are becoming more competent, developing cybercrime strategies to offset the protective security measures taken by India-based BFSI enterprises. This is indicative of the fact that the existing cybersecurity strategies implemented are not enough to bridge the gaps in the business systems.
It is imperative for enterprises in the BFSI sector to understand and adopt the required approach to build resilience. They should adopt the principles of “predictive intelligence”, which include incident prevention, detection, response, recovery and restoration.
Breaches and cyberattacks are on the rise in the healthcare industry. The recent acceleration of digital technology and connectivity within healthcare has led to significant improvements in patient care delivery, population health management and patient outcomes. However, this increased technology and connectivity has also exposed the healthcare sector to increased cyberattacks that can impact patient care delivery, safety and privacy. Healthcare facilities are particularly vulnerable as ransomware attacks can cut off a service provider’s access to critical data. Medical emergencies make hospitals vulnerable to extortion.
The recently launched Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, though it comes with the benefit of integrating the healthcare data of citizens, has posed the possibility of cybercriminals using this integrated system to seek ransom for healthcare providers. Data integration in the healthcare sector should be accompanied with enhancement of cybersecurity measures in the county.
Uptake of new tools and solutions
According to the latest study by Cisco, it has become critical for companies in India to refresh and upgrade the technologies and solutions in their cybersecurity infrastructure. The report highlights that 37 per cent of cybersecurity technologies used by companies in India are considered outdated by security and privacy professionals working at these organisations.
Lately, the enterprises in India have been addressing this issue by investing in modern cybersecurity technologies to improve their security posture. Nearly 89 per cent of respondents in India reported that their company is investing in a “zero trust” strategy, with 44 per cent stating that their organisation is making steady progress with it and 45 per cent claiming that they are at an advanced stage of implementation. In addition, 88 per cent of respondents reported that their company is investing in secure access service edge (SASE) architecture, with 44 per cent reporting good progress with adoption and a similar number saying that their implementation is at advanced stages.
These two approaches are crucial to building a strong security posture for companies in the modern cloud-first and application-centric world. Organisations are facing multiple challenges while operating in this environment, including complexity in connecting users to applications and data across various cloud platforms, inconsistent security policies across disparate locations and networks, difficulty in verifying the identity of users and devices, and lack of end-to-end visibility of their security infrastructure.
According to the study, organisations with mature implementations of zero trust or SASE architectures are 35 per cent more likely to have strong security operations than those at a nascent stage. Meanwhile, organisations that leverage threat intelligence achieve faster mean time to repair, with rates 50 per cent lower than non-intel users. Businesses with integrated technologies are seven times more likely to achieve high levels of process automation. Automation more than doubles the performance of less experienced staff, supporting organisations through skills and labour shortages.
As the threat landscape continues to evolve, testing business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities regularly and in multiple ways is more critical than ever. Proactive organisations are 2.5 times more likely to maintain business resiliency. Organisations with board-level oversight of business continuity and disaster recovery operations within cybersecurity teams are expected to outperform others in dealing with cyberattacks.
Future outlook – Expected increase in cybersecurity spend
According to a survey by PwC, an estimated 80 per cent of Indian organisations are expected to increase their cybersecurity budget in 2022. The firm noted that the risk landscape is continuously evolving and organisations are investing more in cybersecurity to manage their risks.
The interconnectedness of business systems and information makes it more difficult to limit the impact of a risk event, making it more likely to have a domino effect and severe consequences. As a result, organisations are implementing robust cybersecurity practices and controls to manage these risks. According to the survey, organisations have also invested in a variety of cybersecurity tools and technologies to manage their cyberrisks. However, these technologies are not utilised up to their full potential for making intelligent and informed decisions regarding cyber risk management.
Going forward, four out of 10 companies have invested or plan to invest in cybersecurity by focusing on areas such as customer identity and access management, zero trust architecture, managed security services, cloud security and endpoint security.