Industrial cybersecurity has evolved over the years and currently we have a host of strategies and implementations for securing the Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and varied industrial plants. While cybersecurity awareness has improved for many companies willing to invest in technologies; there are still many lingering threats plaguing the industrial cybersecurity scenario. The topmost is related with ICS or Industrial Control Systems. A threat to the ICS can be detrimental to an organization as it typically connects processes related to transport, water, gas, power and other entities related to the critical infrastructure. Thus, a downtime due to an attack could mean serious loss of business. Further, the industrial staff and employees lack skills and expertise to identify the actual problem as most of their concentration is currently restricted to hygiene-specific jobs. This leads to security alerts getting ignored which further amplifies the existing threats.
Additional challenges to business are caused by the fact that no interruptions are advisable, even if it is for installing security updates and necessary patches. This makes industrial cybersecurity a highly vulnerable sphere.
Possible Incidents Faced by Industrial Control Systems
A mismanaged ICS could lead to multiple cybersecurity threats and challenges. For example, delayed remittance of information through the ICS network is one issue that can disrupt operations. Apart from that, unauthorized alarm threshold modifications, command changes and inappropriate actions can also have catastrophic effects. Be it sending out inaccurate information to system operators, in the form of disguised authorities or infecting the ICS system with malware; any kind of interference with equipment operations or protections systems could endanger lives and a lot of fortune.
Mitigating the Challenges
The previously mentioned issues bring along certain challenges which need to be dealt with to minimize business impact.
1. Restricting Access to Networks and Activities
One challenge faced by industrial IT heads would be to restrict unauthorized access into ICS networks. The best approach for mitigating this threat would be to deploy unidirectional gateways and firewalls for keeping malicious network traffic, at bay. Organizations must concentrate on creating Demilitarized Zones or DMZs for monitoring and selectively allowing traffic to pass between ICS networks and corporate databases. Lastly, having a layered network topology can also serve the industries well by securing critical communications.
2. Restricting any form of Physical Access
IT heads must also look to restrict unsolicited, physical access into the ICS systems which might lead to serious network disruptions. The best approach would be to make use of multiple physical access control, in the form of card readers, locks and guards.
3. Protecting Individual Components
Individual Industrial Control System components are equally important as one glitch or error can take the entire system down. Industries, therefore, must deploy security patches after testing them in field conditions. Moreover, every unused port must be disabled; thereby restricting disguised ICS privileges.
4. Restricting Unauthorized Data Modification
Any kind of industrial data shouldn’t be modified, unless stated otherwise. The best way to address this challenge would be by assessing the type of data and putting security considerations in place.
5. Detecting Security Incidents
Organizations must proactively detect certain threats which might escalate towards catastrophic proportions. Defenders should be wary of the cybersecurity risks involving depleted resources, unavailable services and failed ICS components.
6. Maintaining Functionality
Business operators need to be patient with industrial cybersecurity challenges as they are hard to detect and harder to address. Preparedness towards a system compromise is therefore essential while dealing with the industrial business challenges. Companies must make sure that even if a system component fails inadvertently, it must not generate excessive pressure on other ICS networks. Moreover, shifting from normal to emergency operations via graceful degradation should also be allowed.
Looking into the Future of Industrial Cybersecurity
At present, there is a lot of misalignment between cybersecurity maturity and technological investments. Moreover, businesses need to prepare themselves for the future by recognizing the challenges concerning cybersecurity resources. If an organization is looking to achieve the desired security levels, it must balance the internal resources and leverage the external resources for filling up the gaps. In addition to that, companies must opt for a properly secured remote access dashboard for keeping up with the cybersecurity experts and vendors. Based on studies and researches, industries should focus on Industrial IoT, SDN, process automation, tighter system integrations and even distributed control for gaining a competitive advantage against the attackers.
Seqrite’s Role in Industrial Cybersecurity
IT heads spend a lot of time when it comes to maintaining the integrity of ICS but for protecting a system against futuristic threats, organizations must adopt strategies like single corporate IIoT, device level security, policy management and cloud-based services. All these attributes and a few more are offered by Seqrite as a part of their Cybersecurity solutions.