Honeywell Raises the Alarm on New Industrial Cybersecurity Threat

May 29, 2024
A new report from Honeywell explains how “silent residency” has become an increasing threat to industrial facilities.

Honeywell has released its 2024 USB Threat Report, which provides new insights into how “silent residency” has become an increasing cyber threat for industrial and critical infrastructure facilities. In the report, Honeywell highlighted the growing risk of these new attacks—referred to as “living off the land” (LotL)—in which adversaries use USB devices to gain access to industrial control systems to hide and observe operations before launching attacks that evade detection and manipulate the target systems. 

“Targeted cyber-physical attacks are more than zero-day exploits that take advantage of an unknown or unaddressed vulnerability. Instead, they are now also about silent residency—using LotL attacks to wait until there is an opportune moment to turn a system against itself,” said Micheal Ruiz, vice president of OT (operations technology) cybersecurity for Honeywell. 

According to the report, most of the malware detected on USB devices by Honeywell’s Secure Media Exchange could cause loss of view or loss of control of an industrial process, a potentially catastrophic scenario for operators.

The 2024 report is based on the Honeywell Global Analysis, Research and Defense (GARD) team’s tracking and analysis of aggregated cybersecurity threat data from hundreds of industrial facilities globally during a 12-month period. 

Key findings in the report include:

  • USB devices continue to be used as an initial attack vector into industrial environments, as 51% of malware is designed to spread via USB—a nearly six-fold increase from 9% in 2019.
  • Content-based malware, which uses existing documents and scripting functions maliciously now accounts for 20% of malware.
  • More than 13% of all malware blocked use the inherent capabilities of common documents, such as Word, Excel and PDF documents.
  • 82% of malware is capable of causing disruption to industrial operations, resulting in loss of view, loss of control or system outages in OT environments.

Sponsored Recommendations

Measurement instrumentation for improving hydrogen storage and transport

Hydrogen provides a decarbonization opportunity. Learn more about maximizing the potential of hydrogen.

Learn About: Micro Motion™ 4700 Config I/O Coriolis Transmitter

An Advanced Transmitter that Expands Connectivity

Learn about: Micro Motion G-Series Coriolis Flow and Density Meters

The Micro Motion G-Series is designed to help you access the benefits of Coriolis technology even when available space is limited.

Micro Motion 4700 Coriolis Configurable Inputs and Outputs Transmitter

The Micro Motion 4700 Coriolis Transmitter offers a compact C1D1 (Zone 1) housing. Bluetooth and Smart Meter Verification are available.