Impact of Cyber Risk on Functional Safety 

Julianne PoscoNews

Cyber Risk can significantly impact Functional Safety, particularly in systems that rely on software and digital technologies. Functional Safety refers to the ability of a system to operate reliably and safely, particularly in situations where there may be potential hazards or risks to human life, property, or the environment. Functional Safety is critical in industry—especially those involving complex safety-critical systems like oil & gas, nuclear, aviation, power, and other process industries. 

Here are some specific ways in which Cyber Risk can affect Functional Safety: 

1. Unauthorized Access: Cyberattacks can result in unauthorized access to safety-critical systems, allowing malicious actors to manipulate or disrupt their operations. This can lead to unsafe conditions, equipment failures, or even catastrophic accidents. 

2. Data Integrity: Cyberattacks can compromise the data integrity of safety-critical systems. If the data becomes corrupted or manipulated, it can result in incorrect decisions or actions by the system, potentially leading to unsafe conditions.

3. System Malfunction: Malware or other malicious code can infect safety-critical systems, causing them to malfunction or behave unpredictably. This can result in failures of safety mechanisms, loss of control, or unintended actions compromising Functional Safety. 

4. Communication Interference: Cyberattacks can disrupt or interfere with communication networks and protocols used by safety-critical systems. This can hinder the exchange of critical information, impair coordination between system components, or delay emergency response, impacting Functional Safety. 

5. Lack of Updates and Patching: Failure to regularly update and patch software and firmware in safety-critical systems can make them vulnerable to known cyber threats. Exploiting these vulnerabilities can compromise the system’s functionality and undermine its safety measures. 


Organizations must adopt robust cybersecurity measures to mitigate the impact of Cyber Risk on Functional Safety. This includes implementing secure software development practices, conducting regular risk assessments, adopting intrusion detection and prevention systems, establishing strong access controls, and ensuring timely patching and updates. Additionally, integrating defense-in-depth strategies and conducting thorough security testing can help identify and address vulnerabilities in safety-critical systems. 

HCG has a team of cyber security specialists with decades of experience in keeping clients secure by identifying gaps in security protocols and working with clients to formulate robust plans to tighten the security gaps. Please contact HCG in order to become a Solutions Partner for your organization at