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Cybersecurity for Industry 4.0 operational technology

78% of security officials expect a successful attack on ICS/SCADA systems within the next two years


December 1, 2016
By Ivan Romanow Gescan Automation

Topics

Dec. 1, 2016 – In 2000, analyst firm Frost & Sullivan coined a term to describe the growth of integrating machines used in industrial settings with Internet-connected sensors and software that collect and examine data from machines and then apply it to operations to improve efficiencies — the Industrial Internet.

Digital technology combined with industrial expertise could achieve a 20-per-cent performance increase.

The Industrial Internet is already transforming global industry and infrastructure — with the driving force behind this inevitable evolution being the promise of efficiency, data management, productivity and superior safety. By 2020, an estimated 50 billion machines will be connected to the Internet. Through accelerated productivity growth, this digital migration could boost global gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as $15 trillion by 2030.

For the first time, oil rigs, factories and refineries are sending mission-critical data beyond their physical perimeters, as well as inviting modern performance-enhancing solutions to advance their business. They’re making the cyber transition, but as they do, they cannot leave their systems vulnerable to theft and vandalism.

IT and OT security: Differences and opportunities
Information technology (IT) security and operational technology (OT) security are different, in several ways — the most significant difference can be shown in terms of attack outcomes. An attack on IT could lead to data theft (ones and zeros); an attack on OT could affect the physical world (people, environment and assets). It’s a serious distinction.

One major constraint to protecting industrial systems, even for industrial companies themselves, is a misunderstanding of the difference between IT and OT. IT stores, retrieves, transmits and manipulates data; OT uses that data to monitor, control and operate physical devices, processes and events. In the past, OT systems were not connected to the Internet. Today, in an OT environment, breaches can have disastrous consequences.

But while different, it is important to note IT and OT security do overlap and converge. In fact, it is believed the 80/20 rule of thumb says 80 per cent of the security issues faced by OT are almost identical to IT (due to OT adopting IT technologies over time), while 20 per cent are unique, not to be ignored, and critical (people, environment and assets).

Safety must be job one
Today’s industrial organizations take safety seriously and have reduced people’s risks, but as the world rapidly connects devices and machines, it’s time to assess security weaknesses as the first step toward ensuring better protection of people, processes, technology and intellectual property.

Executive tips for securing operational technology
Six questions to consider:
• What assets are at risk?
• What are the potential consequences of a compromise?
• Who is ultimately responsible for cybersecurity?
• Is your industrial control systems (ICS) environment protected from the Internet?
• Do you have remote access to your ICS environment? If so, how is that monitored and protected?
• Are you keeping current on the recommended cybersecurity best practices?

Where to start:
• Identify critical assets and perform a cybersecurity risk assessment.
• Assign a cybersecurity expert to set policies and enforce monitoring.
• Protect your network by not connecting to the Internet.
• Secure remote access via multiple defence layers (e.g., two-factor authentication, VPNs).
• Join the ICS-Cert Portal for alerts and incident reporting.

Seventy-eight per cent of security officials expect a successful attack on their ICS/SCADA systems within the next two years.

In June 2015, SANS Institute released its report, The State of Security in Control Systems Today. One third (34 per cent) of respondents from around the globe said they believe their systems have been breached more than twice in the past 12 months.

Thanks to emerging companies who specialize in operational technology security, the industry can better prepare for and defend against these types of attacks.

This article is written by Ivan Romanow, CET, director of sales for Gescan Automation. Gescan Automation, partnered with Wurldtech Security Technologies, can assist in your cybersecurity concerns from evaluation to implementation.