USB Devices Threaten Industrial Sites

Honeywell has released research showing removable USB media devices such as flash drives pose a significant and intentional cybersecurity threat to a wide array of industrial process control networks.


Honeywell’s data was derived from technology used to scan and control USB devices at 50 locations, Results showed that nearly half, 44% to be exact, detected and blocked at least one file with a security issue. It also revealed that 26% of the detected threats were capable of significant disruption by causing operators to lose visibility or control of their operations.


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Threats targeted an array of industrial sites, i.e., refineries, chemical plants, and pulp-and-paper manufacturers. Threats ranged in severity and about one in six targeted industrial control systems or Internet of Things (IoT) devices.


According to Honeywell, its research marks the first commercial report to focus exclusively on USB security in industrial control environments. It examined data collected from Honeywell’s Secure Media Exchange (SMX) technology, which is reportedly designed to scan and control removable media including USB drives.


Among the threats detected were high-profile, well-known issues such as TRITON and Mirai, as well as variants of Stuxnet, an attack type previously leveraged by nation-states to disrupt industrial operations. In comparative tests, up to 11% of the threats discovered were not reliably detected by more traditional anti-malware technology. For more information visit Honeywell Industrial Cyber Security Solutions and Services.