Power grids, gas plants, conveyor belts, and other operations in manufacturing and industrial processes run on ICS networks. These networks are mission-critical, supporting the nation and its population. The first week of April 2022 was a wake-up call to India. According to international reports, PLA hackers made unsuccessful attempts to penetrate networks at SLDCs (State Load Dispatch Centers) located in and around Ladakh. Targeting the power grid could hamper national security, and the strategic geographical location echoes the same. It is not the case for India alone; instead, every nation – irrespective of geopolitical and economic strength, is facing the threat of an ICS network intrusion.
Some decades-old systems and controls on ICS networks increase the likelihood of intrusion. Failure to secure such mission control infrastructure can put a nation’s national security in the hands of bad actors. Hence, a comprehensive understanding of the security posture of such critical infrastructure is of significance as we embrace future technologies like 6G towards remote processing and control in real-time.
What are OT and ICS Security?
The terminology can be confusing, given that it lacks the exposure IT often has. Simply put, OT (Operational Technology) deals with everything that runs in the physical world, from transportation, water treatment, power distribution, and every manufacturing and industrial process. ICS (Industrial Control Systems) is a significant subset of OT and is often interchangeable in cybersecurity literature. ICS networks comprise subsystems
1. SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) Systems
A combination of hardware and software that allows to control and monitor every action in a manufacturing plant from a control unit refers to SCADA systems. They help gather real-time data, interact (control) with sensors, actuators, and valves, record events (into a log file), and control manufacturing and industrial processes locally and remotely.
2. PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers)
PLCs took the industrial scene by storm by replacing relay-based control systems. PLCs, control and automate various industrial floor processes based on input from a remote control unit or human. The PLCs are a mature technology and solid-state devices offering versatility and efficiency. With little to no complexity in programming them, they form the fundamental block of the ICS network.
3. DCS (Distributed Control System)
Unlike a centrally controlled system, the DCS controls a specific process based on the feed from various sensors and actuators across a geographical area, typically a manufacturing plant. They store, process, and present data graphically. The core function of a typical DCS unit is to orchestrate plant-wide processes. Even if a DCS unit fails, the rest of the plant can still function seamlessly, seconding the tag of ‘most reliable system.’
For most of history, the ICS networks did not connect to the internet. Therefore, cyber threats hardly had any impact, thanks to the air gap. However, recently, enterprises joined ICS networks with the internet to improve usability, efficiency, remote management, and monitoring. As a result, the new paradigm has seen a mushroom growth in cybersecurity threats due to internet connectivity, paving the way for securing the ‘now exposed’ system.
The call for ICS Security
Before the pandemic, few industrial units had full-fledged remote operational capabilities. The few that had were highly secured, requiring a host of proprietary protocols to establish a connection. The pandemic was a wake-up call to many enterprises – manufacturing and non-manufacturing, forcing them to establish remote operations to keep the industrial units running successfully. The development paved the way for the rise of third-party solutions to enable internet connectivity. But this also brought a host of security challenges, owing to either poor security standards or exposing unsecured components of the network, legacy systems, and other technical drawbacks.
Cybersecurity threats are increasing at an alarming rate, especially since the pandemic, with bad actors developing novel techniques to hurt enterprises and organizations globally. Despite security experts’ best efforts to tackle emerging threats, the bad actors can find zero-day vulnerabilities, unsecured components, and legacy systems (on networks) incapable of supporting modern-day security protocols. Additionally, the threat from rogue employees has always been a difficult challenge concerning ICS security.
Also Read: How to overcome OT security threats?
ICS Systems form the core of every societal infrastructure, from power distribution to high-speed railway networks. Without ICS Systems, the smooth functioning of modern cities is impossible. Such is the importance of ICS Systems, and securing them is an utmost priority. However, any breach in security can have large-scale adverse effects on civilians. Therefore, cybersecurity teams of any enterprise need to understand the challenges and threats ICS Systems often face. Understanding this helps to detect, neutralize, mitigate, and secure the compromised system in the shortest turnaround times. Let us know the various challenges and threats faced by ICS Systems and what are the best practices in securing the ICS Systems.
Challenges faced by ICS Systems
Internet connectivity is a double-edged sword regarding industrial and processing units’ connectivity. With thousands of components functioning on a single network, a single vulnerability can put the entire system at risk.
1. Inherited vulnerabilities (in Industrial processes)
No authentication for PLCs, DCS, and RTUs – A typical ICS network comprises thousands of PLCs, DCS, and RTUs working in tandem. These components must function seamlessly for an industrial plant’s smooth and safe functioning. Regrettably, most of these components do not support strong encryption, meaning any access to these components can alter the final industrial process. As a result, a malicious employee, a careless employee, or a hacker who manages to breach the system, has unrestricted access to these components and, thereby, to the final industrial process.
Many suppliers limit the support to a few years after sales. As a result, undetected vulnerabilities or those requiring patches often go unaddressed. Knowledge of such vulnerabilities can jeopardize the entire ICS System’s safety and security. There have been instances of manufacturers (or suppliers) of the components failing to identify an exposed vulnerability and thereby being unable to release the necessary security patch.
2. Unpatched workstations
Like other components, the workstations that control an industrial plant often run a legacy operating system version. With Windows being the most common GUI run on workstations, many enterprises still use legacy versions like Windows NT, XP, and Windows 7. With no support from Microsoft and security patching, these workstations wear down the security posture of the ICS network.
3. Cannot afford any downtime or disruptions
Every minute of unplanned downtime, industrial and manufacturing units’ heavy losses. And regularly patching security updates means regular downtimes. At all costs, ICS engineers are against such downtimes and prioritize the system’s availability over the security of the components. Unfortunately, this leaves many components running on legacy software with known vulnerabilities. Given the vast amount of ‘little to zero protected’ attack surface, the likeliness of a successful intrusion increases exponentially with each second ticking by. Successful intrusion into a weakly secured system can put the entire system in the hands of the bad actor.
Attackers spend time understanding and achieving higher control levels and permissions before carrying out an operation that can make their presence obvious. As a result, before an intrusion is detected, the attackers siphon vast amounts of critical and sensitive data. Then, they use this data to attack even more secure systems.
4. Visibility factor
Visibility of ICS components plays a vital role in determining the number of successful intrusions, detection times, and mitigating capabilities on an ICS Network. Cyber threats were merely a work of fiction when designing first-generation ICS Systems and networks. While the threats managed to take the form of reality, the ICS components’ visibility remained in the dark.
Most ICS Systems hardly have any visibility. The few that might have might be having passive visibility – collecting user data over time and analyzing it. ICS Systems lack real-time visibility – the critical instrument in threat detection. Real-time threat detection and mitigation limit the compromised radius and secure other vital assets. In case of successful intrusion, one can disconnect sensitive information and data about critical processes. Securing a network is only possible when the security teams understand where the assets are, their current security posture, what needs to be secured, their firmware, and other parameters.
Also read: How to get started with OT security
Additionally, one has to understand that ICS Systems comprise different hardware running proprietary software, making it very difficult to secure the systems without complete visibility. Advanced visibility solutions can simulate a sophisticated attack helping to understand exposure and identify the necessary course of action to protect critical assets.
5. Existing vendor-specific protocols
Companies project proprietary software as a robust and fail-proof product in marketing handouts. Companies pitch their software claiming that proprietary software is exclusive, unlike open source code, to which many have access. Unfortunately, the same exclusivity starts hurting enterprises. Given that many components have exclusive and specific protocols, it’s a nightmare when establishing a proper security posture on an ICS network. There have been numerous cases where companies failed to patch an exposed or identified vulnerability by a third party.
Additionally, the control-layer protocols responsible for configuring automation controllers (updating, modifying code, or installing firmware) have vendor-specific protocols. This posture makes it difficult to understand and develop a security framework that meets modern security compliance and protocol standards. Since one can obtain proprietary protocols from the respective vendor’s website, attackers use them. As a result, it takes more time to detect any cyber intrusion before considerable damage.
6. Deeper integration with IT and IoT
This goes without mentioning. It is inevitable for enterprises to integrate their ICS Systems with IT and IoT for optimal use of resources to maximize efficiency if they have to survive in the market. On an optimistic note, IT and IoT integration pave the way for Industry 4.0. However, on the other side, this integration exposes the ICS Systems to a new dimension of security threats arising from internet connectivity.
Integration with IT & IoT can happen only with internet connectivity – a move that nullifies the air gap advantage, which ICS Systems enjoyed all through these years. With a fragile security posture, exposing ICS Systems to the internet is like walking in the middle of a speedway. Novel malware and emerging intrusion techniques put the entire ICS infrastructure at risk, with most current ICS system components being 5-8 years old and few even older than a decade. These components do not support modern security protocols, leaving them unprotected from cyber threats.
7. A comes before I & C: In ICS Systems, enterprises prioritize availability over integrity and confidentiality.
Unplanned downtimes and disruptions can have an impact on the business. Deactivating specific systems on an ICS network can have real-world implications – safety and functioning. Due to this, many on-site ICS engineers opt for the availability of the systems over integrity and confidentiality and end up delaying updates and patches.
This delay in updating weakens the security posture, especially when details about known vulnerabilities are out in the public domain, leaving the entire ICS network, components, and data unprotected. In addition, upon intrusion, hackers collect the data flowing through components and create data dumps for later use.
8. Lack of encryption and default configuration
Historically, plant engineers never felt the need to change default user credentials while installing components on an ICS network, courtesy of the air gap. With the integration of IT and IoT, the air gap exists no more. On a successful intrusion, bad actors can efficiently operate most of the systems on the ICS network by using methods like brute force and generic user credentials. Access to critical systems puts the safety of plant personnel and civilians in the outside world at high risk, owing to the intervention of the ICS-propelled infrastructure of our society.
The design of most ICS networks was on the assumption that there would be no external security threats. This notion led to free data flow between components and networks without encryption. However, the current scenario reflects the complete opposite, with ICS Networks under constant threats from the internet. With millions of globally installed ICS devices running on little to no security, the ICS Systems and society are in danger.
9. Zero Trust and Network Segmentation
Establishing a zero-trust security model is challenging. It only gets more complicated when ICS Systems need to deploy a zero-trust security model. Because ICS networks are already facing cybersecurity threats due to the integration of IT and IoT networks, ICS personnel believe Zero Trust Security Model will further increase the complexity of using the systems. Additionally, ICS administrators have taken a back step in deploying the Network Segmentation technique that comes in handy during a breach.
Many ICS administrators are taking the back seat because of the complexity it brings and the possible downtime to deploy. For example, a nuclear reactor typically runs a single cycle for 18 months. Any downtime during this period can be costing at $33,000 per hour. Scenarios like these dissuade ICS administrators from taking the systems offline.
Threats faced by ICS System:
Differentiating threats and challenges are essential to understanding how to secure ICS systems. We can handle challenges by taking preventive steps, while mitigation is the way to go when dealing with threats in most cases. However, no system can be 100% foolproof. Therefore, deploying recovery and mitigating practices is essential whenever a successful intrusion occurs.
1. ICS Specific Malware
A hacker needs to be successful only once, while security establishments should never have a failure. But the ICS Systems are not even secured in the first place. It’s not difficult for a computer geek to bypass the poor security posture and access ICS systems. A successful intrusion provides a pathway to install malicious malware, and bad actors can take complete control of the systems before being detected.
The malware can come in any form – through employees, third-party installations, and internet connections. For example, when systems connected to the plant go online, the employees might end up clicking on malicious links that download malware in the background and execute the program. In addition, most malware programs can quickly replicate and intrude into the systems.
Rouge employees can use a pen drive to install malware on the control systems. Likewise, unfiltered traffic flowing in and out of the system can always threaten the entire network. Third-party installations are part and parcel of the ecosystem. If a third-party installer with access to the plant has a vulnerability at his back end, the bad actors can use it as a trail to intrude into the ICS Systems. Depending on the type and motives, malware codes can give the security team sleepless nights and millions in losses to the enterprise.
Modern-day hackers target high-profile organizations and institutions with ransomware attacks. Health and state transport systems have been victims and soft targets for hackers. The bad actor can intrude into the system through an unpatched known vulnerability, a new vulnerability, or a zero-day vulnerability.
Once the attacker manages to execute the code on a network, they can encrypt critical information and restrict access, forcing operations to halt. This downtime causes the enterprise to negotiate with the hackers. The ransomware attackers demand a certain sum of money to be paid in cryptocurrency as ransom to access encrypted/locked files and the access. Recently, things have taken a double turn on evolution into ‘double extortion.’
Attackers are not only encrypting the data on the enterprise’s servers but also stealing data. They demand a ransom to decrypt data (usually via a key) and not publish the stolen data on the web. Hackers post stolen data in the public domain if negotiations fail. There have been cases of stolen data deep web for a price. Instances of enterprises not receiving data (partial and complete) despite paying the ransom have been persistent. While there is no assurance that ransomware attackers will release the access, there looks to be no better option.
3. ICS-focused malware
Recently, hackers have been using novel malware to target ICS Systems. High-skilled bad actors deploy advanced techniques targeting ICS systems whose failure can have a mass impact. Meanwhile, low-skilled bad actors are leveraging the tools and techniques developed by the high-skilled bad actors, thus becoming responsible for the increase in the frequency of attacks.
The newly emerging ICS-focused malware design disrupts critical functions and devices on an ICS Network. According to reports, malware can control and compromise devices once they find a way into the network. Furthermore, the malware’s modular architecture supports large-scale automated exploits – an absolute nightmare, mainly when the attack includes DDoS. Cybersecurity experts also cautioned that this malware designed to target industrial control systems could not only disrupt but also have a destructive impact on the industrial systems. Another startling discovery lately about ICS focussed malware is that hundreds of controllers can remotely operate them.
4. Web Application Attacks
Web Applications have put the controls of an industrial plant in our palms. From Human Management Interfaces (HMIs) to PLCs, everything on an OT & ICS Network connects to the web. Thanks to meager development web costs and improved internet connectivity, one can control processes from the opposite side of the earth. In 75% of cyber-attacks, entry points are carried out at the web application level.
Most web applications (software) built for enterprises are highly customized and serve a single client or their subsidiaries. These are often less tested than off-the-shelf software, becoming an easy target for cybercriminals. For example, hackers can access critical databases that control various functions in an industrial plant by taking down the website. Any changes made to essential databases can affect the production and safety of the personnel in and outside the plant.
Hackers resort to methods like XSS (Cross-Sites Scripting). This technique injects malicious code into a web page, redirecting users to phishing sites that mimic the original site. By leveraging other methods like social engineering, local file inclusions, and directory transversal, hackers have been able to break into secured databases despite the database and web engines having no vulnerability. Additionally, SQL injection is by far the most dangerous and most common attack carried out on websites. Using this technique, the attacker injects a series of codes into back-end databases by bypassing authorization and authentication. As a result, the attacker can modify, add, or even delete data on the database, which could have severe implications for the processes and functions of several ICS systems.
5. DDoS Attacks
In the second week of October 2022, pro-Russian hackers took down many US-based airline websites through the DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) technique. Cybersecurity experts do not hesitate to accept that it is almost impossible to prevent a DDoS attack; only mitigation is possible. People can still retort to other sources when airline websites are down, but what if crucial ICS systems are down? What if an entire OT & ICS Network is offline because of a massive DDoS attack? The consequences are unimaginable and can affect various industries, directly and indirectly, related to the targeted industrial plant.
In comparison, there has been a 97% jump in DDoS attacks globally, which will likely rise further as we spearhead into the digital age. Attackers use hundreds or even thousands of malware-infected IoT devices – botnets, to send service requests to servers. Then, owing to a sudden increase in traffic, often shadowing the server’s per-second request handle capacity of 100 or even 1000, the infrastructure collapses and goes offline. As a result, every ICS System is on the verge of experiencing a DDoS at any moment, owing to limited access controls and traffic coming from invalidated sources.
DDoS attacks cause unexpected downtimes and interfere with critical systems functioning, compromising human safety and leading to heavy financial losses.
6. Command Injection and Parameters Manipulation
Hundreds of components work together to carry out a process on an industrial site. Data drives these components, helping them achieve the desired operation. However, given the weak security posture of ICS Systems, hackers can carry out ‘command injection’ attacks where they inject arbitrary commands on the server to change the procedure and course of action of a process. Similarly, they can manipulate various input parameters that drive PLCs and other ICS components.
Using a command injection threat, the attackers can take complete control of the underlying operating system and carry out lateral movement attacks. Such an attack can compromise other networks connected to the compromised network, putting a host of systems under threat. The attackers can also upload malware-infected files in the server’s webroot and perform command injection attacks. A hacker can also inject commands using XML external entity vulnerability, insecure serialization, and server-side temple injection. Additionally, there have been cases where user credentials were stolen using SQL injections.
Securing ICS Systems:
The non-homogeneous nature of components, the security shortcomings, and the complexity of the ICS systems do not support a one-stop security solution. Strengthening the security posture is only possible by integrating security into the OT & ICS systems and network rather than as an external blanket layer. Implementing industry-standard security frameworks helps secure digital perimeter and ICS components.
To completely secure the ICS ecosystem, an enterprise should take several measures that comprehensively build security from within the systems and networks. Understanding and addressing vulnerabilities in the following areas is vital before proceeding to best practices in securing ICS Systems:
- Policy, procedural, and platform configuration
- Platform software and hardware configuration
- Network configuration and hardware
Best practices in securing ICS Systems:
1. Active and passive inventory gathering
Every device on ICS System needs to be monitored and logged. Active inventory gathering follows the basic process of ‘ping and response’ – a ping is sent to the device, and the inventory system awaits a response. The active inventory gathering setup is usually software-driven and includes devices that can log into inventory to pull out further details. These details include the current firmware, patch version, and other technical information about the inventory. On the other hand, passive inventory gathering listens for traffic being broadcasted from the network (various devices) to make a list of the inventory. Additionally, this traffic should pass through secure firewalls unidirectional, improving the security posture. The passive gathering technique requires every device to send Syslog and a log management system.
An active inventory mechanism can slow down the network, as devices keep using the bandwidth to contact the devices. In time-sensitive environments like ICS, slowing down bandwidth can affect various processes and functions. Meanwhile, passive inventory gathering does not use the bandwidth to know the inventory. Using the Syslog approach and log management system, enterprises can use historical data to identify assets.
2. NTA and Monitoring
Having continuous feed on what is happening on the networks are essential in deploying necessary measures to mitigate and neutralize intrusion. Network Traffic Analysis is vital in securing the ICS Systems and mitigating risks. The network constantly monitors various parameters that address operational and security issues and identify anomalies. Thanks to advancements in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, analyzing telemetry (data) and adding context to various alerts is improving daily.
A comprehensive NTA and monitoring help us to receive security alerts even before a threat can cause considerable damage to the network. With extended visibility and context-defined alerts, the security posture vastly improves. The CISO must define and list what normal behavior for various components (firewalls, switches, routers, and others) is and which element is accessing the network. NTA brings the availability of the entire system to one’s palms. In addition, one can conduct forensic analysis using NTA and attribute malicious behavior to a specific IP. This ability helps security teams to respond to adversaries in a short time, thereby preventing and reducing any business impact.
3. Demilitarized Zone
Creating a Demilitarized Zone – a buffer zone between the plant’s IT and ICS domains is essential. The DMZ makes it difficult for hackers and other bad actors to access the internal network and other internal resources – including business applications, servers, and data. Though the DMZ servers connect to the internet, the internal Local Area Network, on which the ICS and the plant’s IT domain run, remain unreachable.
DMZ consists of firewalls on both connecting ends. All the traffic passing to the ICS domain should mandatorily pass through the buffer zone, with ‘no trust’ defined. The pre-installed security appliance and other installations screen the inbound network packets. In case of a malware attack in the plant’s IT domain, one can restrict it from entering the ICS domain, thereby securing user credentials, which otherwise are at risk of a breach. Regular security patch updation helps prevent the exploitation of known vulnerabilities and bugs, and leveraging anti-malware services can protect the networks from existing malware threats. Establishing DMZ complements the ‘Defence-in-depth’ strategy. For example, if a laptop or a workstation is infected, through which one connects to the ICS via a VPN, we need not terminate the connection between the computer and ICS. Passing the inbound packets through the DMZ can help establish a secure connection by screening and neutralizing malware.
4. Separate user credentials for ICS and IT Systems
The user credential for ICS and IT systems on a plant’s network should be separate. During a successful intrusion, even if an attacker manages to hack into the IT systems, they cannot further progress to the ICS domain due to the requirement of unique user credentials. Using time-bound user credentials (both ID and password) helps in improving the security posture further by turning existing user credentials invalid and preventing access to the systems during an intrusion. All connections should be made via authorized systems and workstations and securely pass through the firewalls.
5. Improve formal ICS Security awareness and training program
Awareness and training programs contribute more than just meeting compliance standards. Having formal and third-party training to learn more about ICS Security creates a secure ICS workforce, helps keep tabs on the latest trends, and sharpens their skill. In addition, the hierarchy in ICS Security plays a vital role, with plant engineers needing to act quickly during an unfortunate event, putting an enormous responsibility on plant engineers, who are often little trained or even untrained. Training the workforce to defend any control systems, PLCs, SCADA Systems, DCS, and every other component directly and indirectly linked to ICS is essential.
Likewise, equipping the workforce with the latest tools, trends, and knowledge is critical in running ICS Systems, especially with novel threats emerging every day. Training sessions not only build the skillset but also sharpens it. At times, choosing the proper technique and approach in mitigating a danger can be the difference. With more threat vectors in play and more opportunities to launch cyber-attacks capable of doing immense damage, training everyone in the enterprise according to their roles is essential. Therefore, enterprises should meet NIST SP 800-50 and NIST SP 800-100 frameworks.
6. Securing remote access for ICS Components
Paving the way for Industry 4.0 applications, remote access is necessary for enterprises. However, from assembling, commissioning, developing, and installing new machines, many enterprises opt for third-party services regarding remote access. While this brings feasibility and ease of practicality, the enterprise loses complete access.
Often, enterprises can establish remote connections in three ways:
- Specific access solution – Third-party service providers must access an enterprise’s ICS network. Therefore, the security team must understand which applications and ports are exposed to the external network. The creation of a tunnel connecting the client and enterprise will take place in a secured client-solution direction. Using the TLS or HTTPS protocol, we secure the traffic along this tunnel between the third-party service provider and the enterprise’s hardware or software component inside the secured ICS network. Only outgoing connections are required to control these communications and are carried out routinely through the 443 port.
- Connection via Jump Client – Enterprises use the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) as a buffer zone to let the traffic enter the ICS Systems. An outsider user trying to access the ICS domain of the industrial plant should establish a connection through a VPN using a specific remote device to connect to the corporate network. Upon connecting to the corporate network, the traffic passes through the DMZ that screens various threats and other adversaries before connecting to the plant’s ICS domain and other systems.
- Direct connection – Enterprises opt for third-party services for remote access applications. The decision is primarily due to ease of practicality and use. But this gives complete access to the third-party service provider, thereby putting the security of the ICS systems in the hands of a third party. Therefore, enterprises should deploy network segmentation while establishing direct connections by separating corporate and ICS networks and further segmenting them. Parallelly, well-defined end-to-end rules should be in place, and no destination equipment and communication protocol should use IP ranges.
Risk Management in ICS Units:
Because ICS establishments interact and control the physical world, human safety is paramount, followed by process protection. While these systems cannot go offline or have any downtime, a fault tolerance mechanism should be in place. Risk management of ICS Units exists in three tiers:
- Organization level
- Business process level
- Information system level
Most of the attributes of ICS Risk Management deal at the ‘Information System Level.’ Establishing a secured communication portal among stakeholders of inter and intra-tiers when it comes to risk management. A grid that highlights product produced, industry, and security concerns at Low-Medium-High impact will help in assessing risk management more accurately from time to time.
Following FIPS 200 document helps to establish select security controls in 18 security-related areas to improve risk management posture. Constant assessment of security requirements, existing security controls and protocols, authorization controls, and monitoring is essential.
North America & ICS:
The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) recommends NST SP800-53 for security overlay control in the case of Industrial Control Systems. Following this security framework helps identify vulnerabilities and threats, fortify security, take countermeasures against threats, and mitigate cyberattacks on the ICS units.
Cloud-based security services have been the driving force behind the ICS market for the last decade. According to a survey, the ICS market from $17B in 2021 is likely to reach $29.9B by 2029. North America’s 44.6% share in 2021 will reduce with time as enterprises from APAC countries continue to avail of ICS cybersecurity solutions. Cyber experts predict that ICS Endpoint and Network protection services will account for an increased market share than application and database protection as we move towards 20230.
ICS plays a crucial role in our modern-day world. From power distribution to complex transportation systems, everything runs on ICS. Securing such a vital component from bad actors is of paramount importance, given that the effects are devastating, leading to even loss of human life when systems are compromised. Hence a complete understanding of what ICS means, it’s working, the challenges and threats it faces, and how to secure it are essential.
A robust monitoring and assessment program is an excellent way to start with ICS Security. Additionally, enterprises should adopt the following:
- NIST ICS security framework
- Designing a well-defined ICS Security Architecture
- Applying ICS Security controls
Incident Detection-Response-System Recovery forms the core of ICS Security, while monitoring, logging, and auditing are key drivers that ensure the robustness of the systems. Having redundant systems, fault tolerance, limiting single-point failures, and unidirectional gateways (communication) is essential. In addition, implementing a zero trust policy and carrying out the ‘Authentication and Authorization’ protocol thoroughly truly secures the systems.
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