Cybersecurity matters more than ever for industrial control systems (ICS). The primary threats include:

  • Hackers accessing and controlling industrial systems
  • Bad actors tapping into unprotected assets and stealing crucial data for malicious purposes

Specific hacking threats range from malware to spear-phishing and other social engineering techniques. These tactics can cause not only disruption, but also destruction of industrial processes and systems.

When it comes to data theft, attackers can use passive intelligence to eavesdrop on unencrypted pages in industrial environments. With the stolen data in hand, they can conduct social engineering attacks, break into organizations, and create false alarm scenarios ultimately affecting uptime and other crucial processes.

To protect against those threats, it’s important to take key steps to secure your industrial environment and control risks. In the article, we provide tried and true ways to prioritize risks and start securing your industrial network, endpoints, and control systems.

Steps to Secure Your Industrial Network

In a connected plant environment, security of your digital assets must start at the network level, because your assets run on your network. The steps to network security are as follows:

  • Implement proper network design, with well-secured boundaries
  • Segment your networks by implementing the ISA IEC 62443 standard
  • Secure wireless applications
  • Deploy secure remote access solutions that support rapid troubleshooting and problem resolution
  • Continuously monitor your network for threats and suspicious activity

Protect Your Industrial Endpoints

Threats to an industrial environment aren’t exclusively external. While it’s crucial to protected against with firewalls, proprietary software, specialized protocols, and airgaps, those measures are bypassed once personnel enter your facility with a laptop or USB device. Here are key steps to take:

  • Gather and maintain an accurate inventory of all endpoints’ hardware and software
  • Tracking vulnerabilities in operational technology (OT) assets
  • Put in place secure and hardened configurations at each endpoint
  • Monitor for any unauthorized changes
  • Alert key personnel when unauthorized changes occur and ensure proper protocols are followed following an alert

Secure Your Industrial Controllers

Industrial systems use physical devices, such as actuators, calibration devices, valves and sensors that interact with the physical world. In certain attacks, hackers target and access these devices, taking down these systems. For these attacks to occur, attackers must gain direct access to the control level, which they often do by targeting the industrial controllers responsible for managing those systems. To protect your controllers, follow these steps:

  • Invest in enhanced detection capabilities to gain visibility into industrial control systems changes and threats
  • Identify vulnerable controllers and implement security measures to protect them
  • Monitoring for suspicious access and change control
  • Actively contain threats with a rapid-response system

We Help You Protect Your Industrial Control Systems

At STA, we have extensive experience helping industrial plants secure their networks, endpoints, controllers, OT environments, IT systems and more from digital threats. Learn more about our industrial IT security services here, give us a call today at 314-714-5055, or contact us here for expert assistance securing your environment.