How Network Segmentation Can Protect Supply Chains from Ransomware Attacks

Organizations can take various steps to protect their operational technology (OT) environments against digital threats. But some stand out more than others. In particular, network segmentation is described as “the first answer to insufficient ICS (Industrial Control System) cybersecurity.” Experts advocate zoning ICS assets to coordinate informational technology (IT) and OT environments effectively.

That doesn’t always happen, however. Indeed, the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks decimated the OT side of the affected organizations’ infrastructure partly because segmentation was not in place. Otherwise, the impact of the attacks could have been mitigated at least in some way.

The State of Supply Chains, Ransomware, and Segmentation

Over the past year, organizations around the world have witnessed an untold proliferation of ransomware attacks across their supply chains.

Illustrating this fact, a recent survey of hundreds of executives found that 36% of cyberattacks had disrupted supply chains significantly within the past three years. And in 2020, the greatest threat to organizations’ supply chains behind COVID-19 was cyberattacks.

Fortunately, network segmentation has proven helpful in mitigating common ransomware attacks especially those arising from breached IoT devices, third-party vendors, and the like. Part of this has to do with the main benefits of network segmentation. These include the following:

  • Eliminates network congestion, resulting in overall improved performance. More so, it is harder to detect threats and fix vulnerabilities on a congested network.
  • Improves intrusion control by making it easy to contain detected threats.
  • Minimizes access to specific sensitive data and information by zoning them to a more secure network.

Segmentation also helps in organizations in the recovery phase. By limiting the available attack surface, the impact of any attack becomes much lower, making it easier to recover or replace lost data. That stands in contrast to having to revamp a supply chain’s entire cybersecurity infrastructure.

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