THE IMPORTANCE OF PROTECTING YOUR INDUSTRIAL NETWORK AGAINST CYBER VULNERABILITY

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Today, Industrial Network Security relates to the protection of systems and internal components from malicious attacks to maintain Confidentiality, Availability, and Integrity. It protects the industries against damage or loss.

Industrial Control Systems permit operators to control and monitor industrial processes, which include those in chemical, nuclear, manufacturing, oil, and gas, power transmission and distribution, as well as other industries. You can find Industrial Control Systems in many different places, from managing the process of brewing beer, to running the power grid and regulating a building’s usage of energy.

The need to enhance the security of industrial networks cannot be over-emphasized.

Most crucial production facilities provide reasonable physical security, stopping unlawful local access to modules that are the heart of the manufacturing environment. This might restrict access to operational control centers, physically secured equipment rack rooms, or locked engineering work centers. The only way by which an Industrial Control Systems can be exposed to external cyber threats is through the industrial networks as well as the connections, which exist with other surrounding enterprise resources and business networks.

Could cyber terrorists attack your business?

Maybe, but probably this is not the best question to ask. When cyber-related situations result in blackouts and plant shutdowns, whether they were due to terrorist, employee, accident or hacker, the first question ought to be, “What made our system vulnerable and unstable, and what can we do to stop it from occurring once more?

“Most industrial systems are made using legacy devices, and in some instances run legacy protocols, which have grown to function in routable networks. Automation systems were created for dependability long before the tremendous increase of Internet real-time business information systems, Internet connectivity, and web-based applications. Physical security was at all times a problem; however, information security was usually not important since the control systems were air-gapped, meaning that they were physically separated without common system crossing that gap” says Christopher Bell, an engineer at Equustek Solutions Inc.

Ideally, the air gap would remain and apply to digital communication; however, in reality, it hardly ever exists. In 1990, most organizations started the process of reengineering their business operational and process needs. Organizations started to carry out more integration between not just common Industrial Control Systems applications during this period, but also the integration of usual business applications such as manufacturing planning systems with the supervisory components of the Industrial Control Systems. The demand for real-time information sharing advanced along with these business operations of industrial networks.

A way to bypass the gap had to be found since the information needed came from across the air gap. During the early stages of this integration “wave” security was not a top priority, and small network isolation was offered. Initially, standard routing technologies were used in case any separation was considered. Firewalls were sometimes used as organizations started to realize the basic operational variations between industrial and business networks, blocking all traffic apart from that which was extremely important to improve the efficiency of operations of a business.

The issue is that, no matter how well intended or justified the action, the air gap no longer exists. Now, there is a path into crucial systems, and any existing path can be found and exploited.

How are you managing Industrial Cyber Security?

Challenges in global cyber security:

  • Minimal cyber security know-how
  • multi-vendor control networks.
  • Regulatory cyber requirements and standards
  • Low-security visibility across complex
  • Greater risk from IIoT connectivity
  • Operational-business security silos

The implications of a cyber attack can include:

  • Fines because of regulatory compliance problems
  • Reputational damage possibly impacting stock prices
  • Costly harm to plant assets
  • Negative safety, health and environmental repercussions
  • Unanticipated downtime and production loss.