How USBs Create a Big Cybersecurity Threat

How USBs Create a Big Cybersecurity Threat

When plugged in, these small devices can pose a major risk for industrials.

Costly disruptions. Infrastructure at risk. Private information exposed. Cybersecurity is more important than ever. 

It turns out a lot of operations leverage USB media devices such as removable storage (flash drives, external hard drives) – there was a 30% year over year increase in use of USBs in these facilities. 

With anything that plugs into that port, comes potential malicious threats. 

At industrial facilities world-wide, USBs are used by employees and contractors as a convenient way to transfer files and update patches. 

Our 2021 USB Threat Report shows that they leave industrial networks vulnerable. 

The new research aggregated data from hundreds of plants in the energy, oil and gas, chemical, buildings, aerospace and other industrial manufacturing facilities from over 60 countries through Honeywell Secure Media Exchange (SMX).  

79% of threats have the potential to critically impact operational technology (OT) systems

This is a significant increase, up from 59% in 2020 and 26% in 2019. 

37% of threats were specifically designed to utilize removable media

That’s almost double from 19% in the 2020 report and more than quadruple from 9% in 2019. 

30% year over year increase in use of USBs 

With the global pandemic, there was an increase in USB device use within production facilities. 

12% of threats were content based

These types of threats were 110% over the previous year. This new trend shows a shift from threats in the impersonation of executable files and archives (.exe and .zip) to documents themselves (.PDF, Office files).

Download the full Honeywell Industrial Cybersecurity USB Threat Report 2021.