• Chris Bratton - Tech Journalist

Learning protocols for business to spot and keep cyber risk under control

There is a famous saying, “Security is only as strong as the weakest link.” While being a cliché, it is true. Controlled systems keep the workflow inhabited in industrial facilities. Whether to manage a system or to carry out commands regularly, a control system is essential. ICS (Industrial Control System) happens to be one of these systems that helps business automate tasks. Unlike today’s automation done via long lines of stored codes, this automation is done via manufacturing lines. And the devices for managing security also falls under ICS maintenance.

Manufacturing and security systems were under engineering teams strict preview in the past. So, they primarily had to undergo functionality process specifications. But after some issues and control hassles, the system ought to change. It was harmless at first, but since long periods of deployment and testing, an upgrade was necessary. At that moment; separate IT systems were enabled with enough power to maintain security and system flow.

Cybersecurity is an issue, and there is no better way to tackle it than to attach a special security team that IT enables as a part of the process. Cybersecurity or IT system works on IP (Internet Protocol) based systems. And for security purpose and stability maintenance, they are covered with multi-network layers. But for the previous ICS system, these features weren’t there and separate IT and the ICS team doesn’t make sense for a steady approach.

Sensors, actuators, drives, database, software’s are easily maintained by the IT department. Engineering departments are required and all, but we have to view them in a manner of efficiency. A dedicated and comprehensive security plan can only upgrade authentication or cyberlogging systems. In 2010, we saw Iran Stuxnet centrifuges attack and, German steel mill attack in 2014. Ukraine suffered a power grid attack in 2018 where malicious actors used spear-phishing technique. They sent emails with BlackEnergy 3 malware. It was so deadly that it captured user login credentials. The Iran attack was declared as four zero-day vulnerability. They were spread through USB devices. It affected the network and Siemen’s equipment. German steel mill attack was made via API manipulation. Hackers accessed the privileged control system from that. Even in 2017, where technology is not far behind, Trisis plant attack executed via safety instrumented systems (SISs).

Cyberattacks are so deadly that even after getting things under control, the damage still perceives. Stuxnet centrifuges attack caused physical damage and were out of control for an extended period. Even the steel mill happened to outputted casualties of physical harm to equipment. The power grid attack in Ukraine was caused by credential allocation, which used denial-of-service (DoS) in telephone lines. Around 220,000 people and employees experienced a blackout.

Field devices and control centre both have different security layers. Because one receives direction and one controls the system. In a company motor controls, PLCs are recognized as field devices. Where some control centres operate via the internet or SCADA servers, both systems need frequent moderation and updates to stay ahead of the curve of the latest security protocols.

Outdated design concerns the security of enterprise system. Addressing them with the ICS environment has some flaw, and after grading performance from other systems, we can compare them easily. ICS system is not compatible with unknown devices. IoT network and lacking are in security is peer format of ICS. Even third party-party application and OS is vulnerable, unlike IT-based infrastructure. Updating the system with ease, applying more layers of security or patching the ones that already exist is easier for the IT system.

Protecting against all kinds of cyberthreats is only as efficient as the IT infrastructure goes. From a small unprotected sensor, something dangerous may stem up. The motto is “Keep lights on and water flowing.” And it goes a long way with cybersecurity functionality. We can’t throw away the interconnection of physical devices or be referred to as smart devices. Cybersecurity is currently an IT issue, and business and enterprises need to work that way.