Securing Critical Infrastructure and Protecting Industrial Control Systems (ICS)
Operational Technology (OT) has converged with IT, resulting in the increased need for OT security. Connectivity of OT to the Internet improves the monitoring and/or controlling of physical devices, processes, and events such as industrial control systems (ICS), including Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). However, opening network communication to OT comes with its challenges.
Pratum is working with manufacturers, electric utilities, water and waste water, oil and gas, municipalities, and food processing companies to help them assess cybersecurity risk and proactively develop security programs to protect their industrial environments.
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Why Does OT Security Matter?
The OT systems that were once isolated from security threats are now vulnerable and exposed. Programmable logic controllers (PLCs), distributed control systems (DCS), human machine interfaces (HMI) and other field devices are now able to share data and performance metrics with business-analytics processes through standardized protocols. These systems and networks are critical, so any misstep can pose a significant risk to the organization.
For many organizations, availability (uptime) is the key indicator of successful business operations, and for others it is an absolute requirement. For manufacturers, availability means parts are being produced and products are going out the door. With Water/Wastewater Treatment, it means the public can continue consuming safe drinking water and the environment will remain free of waste contaminants.
Health and Safety
OT system failures can result in severe environmental impacts as well as health and safety matters for employees and the public. A breach in the network of one of the several thousand U.S. chemical facilities could result in major chemical spills or theft or diversion for use in chemical or explosive weapons.
Integrating with Corporate IT can position OT as an entry point for attackers to infiltrate an organization’s network, which can result in business-related issues such as downtime, client data exfiltration, and indirect and direct financial loss.
Compliance requirements are also a driver for OT security. Critical infrastructure sectors are among them. The Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21), which states Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience advances a national policy to strengthen and maintain secure, functioning, and resilient critical infrastructure, has been implemented to ensure organizations are doing their part to secure critical infrastructure.
Information Security Assessment of OT
Performing security assessments against industrial control systems requires special care. Pratum works with organizations to evaluate systems, their functions, potential impact, and risk associated with performing a security assessment prior to any active testing taking place.
Pratum assists organizations with evaluating risks that have been identified and associated with their IP-based industrial control networks and devices. This evaluation generally includes architecture review and vulnerability assessments and can involve manual advanced exploitation techniques as well.
- Nation-state threat actors
- Malicious insiders
- Human error
- Improper / Insecure Configuration
- Gaps in network boundary and segmentation security
- Business Continuity / Incident Response Planning