DARTMOUTH, Mass. — A new study by research and advisory firm Gartner has estimated that cyber attackers will have weaponized Operational Technology (OT) environments to successfully harm or kill humans by the year 2025.

Attacks on Operation Technology — hardware and software that monitors or controls equipment, assets, and processes — have become more common, as per a press release from Gartner.

“Attacks have also evolved from immediate process disruption such as shutting down a plant, to compromising the integrity of industrial environments with the intent to create physical harm,” said the release.

“Other recent events like the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack have highlighted the need to have properly segmented networks for Information Technology and Operation Technology.”

Security incidents in Operation Technology and other cyber-physical systems (CPS) have three main motivations: actual harm, commercial vandalism (reduced output), and reputational vandalism (making a manufacturer untrusted or unreliable), as per Gartner.

“In operational environments, security and risk management leaders should be more concerned about real-world hazards to humans and the environment, rather than information theft,” said Wam Voster, senior research director at Gartner.

“Inquiries with Gartner clients reveal that organizations in asset-intensive industries like manufacturing, resources, and utilities struggle to define appropriate control frameworks.”

The research firm said that the financial impact of cyber-physical systems attacks resulting in fatal casualties will reach over $50 billion by 2023.

Even without taking the value of human life into account, the cost for organizations in terms of compensation, litigation, insurance, regulatory fines, and reputation loss will be significant, Garter said.

Gartner also said that most Chief Executive Officers will be personally liable for such incidents.

Earlier in July, Gartner said that the worldwide Information Technology spending would grow 9 percent in 2021.

“Technology spending is entering a new build budget phase,” said John-David Lovelock, Research Vice President at Gartner.

“Chief information officers are looking for partners who can think past the digital sprints of 2020 and be more intentional in their digital transformation efforts in 2021. This means building technologies and services that don’t yet exist, and further differentiating their organization in an already crowded market.”

“Rising investment in digital transformation, cloud, software as a service & emerging technologies by Indian companies in pharma, healthcare, retail, financial services, education, and e-governance can drive the India IT spending to grow 8 percent to touch $92.7 billion in 2021,” tweeted Omkar Rai, the Director-General of Software Technology Parks of India (STPI).

(With Inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Praveen Pramod Tewari)

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