Things to know when implementing industrial cybersecurity
In order to realize the benefit of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), industrial networks are increasingly being connected to IT networks and the internet. As a result of this changing landscape, industrial cybersecurity
has become a major concern for business owners who realize protecting against cyberattack threats has become an integral part of their security solution. Cyberattacks run the risk of significantly impacting business operations, and therefore profits, however despite this, a large number of people are still under the misapprehension that industrial networks are secure because hackers
lack the required knowledge necessary to understand ICS, PLCs, and SCADA systems or that they won't be targeted because they're running a medium-sized business. However, this is an obsolete belief that is no longer true for modern industrial networks
Cyberattacks, a Wake-up Call
Since 2010, there have been several sophisticated cyberattacks, such as Stuxnet and Industroyer that targeted ICS networks. These incidents have provided an abrupt reminder to owners of critical applications, such as power plants
, that their facilities cannot suffer any downtime, even for a few seconds. Research by the U.S. government organization ICS-CERT has shown that the energy and critical manufacturing industries are the most vulnerable to cyberattacks. This research is finding its way to top management, where they are beginning to launch company-wide initiatives to enhance their cybersecurity solutions. Business owners are now finding that it essential to have a full understanding of industrial cybersecurity
requirements in order to build and deploy secure industrial networks.
- Availability Is The Number One Priority
Control processes cannot experience downtime. If a control engineer has not experienced a cyberattack
, the engineer will often be hesitant to deploy enhanced industrial cybersecurity features for their network as it involves additional time and effort, such as developing security patches, updating or adding new networking devices like firewalls, and rebooting devices. All of these require operations to be temporarily stopped, which is something that control engineers want to avoid at all costs.
- Multiple Vulnerabilities in Industrial Network Legacy Devices
Some industrial networks were built ten or even twenty years ago, and security features weren't incorporated into their design. A large number of industrial networks haven't upgraded their security features updated since initial deployment, making them more susceptible to cyberthreats than other networks.
- Industrial Networks Include Different Operating Systems and Devices
Two main problems are often encountered by organizations when trying to secure industrial networks. The first stems from the fact that network operators are unaware of how secure the devices are when they are about to be deployed on the network. The second is that small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) vendors often do not adhere to the best cybersecurity practices, which can lead to several significant problems. Within these organizations, there are often multiple industrial networks that use different operating systems and devices, making it difficult to take a unified approach to enhancing security.
- Industrial Network Devices Need to Work in Harsh Environments
Enterprise networks are usually installed in air-conditioned environments; however, industrial networks are often located in harsh environments with extreme operating temperatures and vibrations. Thus, it is required to have industrial networking devices that can endure electrical interferences and pass vibration or shock tests.
There is no method or approach that offers 100% guaranteed protection against cyberattacks. However, several best practices can be followed to significantly decrease the chance that your network will be infiltrated by a cyberattack. First, make sure your stakeholders are aware of the risks and provide them with policies, tools, and equipment to help them reduce those risks. Business owners should make every effort to ensure that IT personnel fully understand the importance of cybersecurity
and how to protect their industrial networks. With the possibility of cyberthreats happening at any time, it is of paramount importance that every manufacturer of industrial infrastructure solutions has a robust approach to dealing with cyberthreats.