Time to step up: Actions you can take today

Your control system cyber assets were not coded with security in mind, so you have to build defenses yourself, always thinking about your complete security posture. Here are ways to start now.

06/27/2013


Matt Luallen is the founder of Cybati, a security training and consulting organization.Control systems represent a high-value target and are under attack. How bad is the risk? A recent survey and webcast conducted by Control Engineering indicated that most respondents recognize that the risk is high to severe. What really is the risk? The ancient risk calculation method tries to associate the threat with the vulnerability. It requires both the actual asset vulnerability combined with a threat actor motivated to exploit that vulnerability. Increasing international tensions have increased the motivation of threat actors worldwide. A recent vendor briefing highlighted how vulnerable industrial cyber assets and their communications protocols truly are. The vulnerabilities transcend product lines within vendors and across vendors. The situation is improving in some areas, but most industrial control system (ICS) product suppliers and integrators do not have a security process within their software development and system integration lifecycle, or are early in their efforts. Security cannot be an afterthought and requires foundational controls.

So if you know that there is risk, what can you do? You could rip and replace immediately, but you may find your new solution is just as vulnerable as the old. You have to know what you have, build walls, monitor, and respond to threat indicators. Are your people trained to do those? 

Step one, which you can begin today, is create an inventory of your control system assets. This includes all personnel and skills, controller hardware, networking hardware, communication channels, and operational procedures. Step two, take a look into any regulations impacting your cyber, physical, and operational security requirements. If you do not have any (yet), then consider yourself lucky; it will be up to you to justify a cash outlay for security to your management. However, if you are in the energy or water sectors, several cyber security controls are already impacting you or will be soon.

Once you compile your initial inventories, the next steps are:

1. Create a baseline of security needs throughout your organization and its stakeholders. This is a key ingredient, as your organization will most likely have to create new roles and responsibilities to address ongoing threats.

2. Using your inventory of cyber assets, identify which are required for direct control functions. Then, identify what communication channels, applications, and services are required for each ICS cyber asset to perform its operations. This process will not be easy, and your control system vendors and integrators may not have specific answers for your environment. This process proves a reason to stand up a test environment.

3. Remove all other communication channels, applications, and services not necessary for normal and emergency operating conditions.

4. Review the remaining communication channels, applications, and services for vulnerabilities. Using the inventory of firmware, applications, and protocol versions, check them for out-of-date and/or vulnerable cyber asset components.

5. Identify mitigating controls such as a network intrusion detection system (IDS). The IDS should be configured with specific rule sets for your control system protocols and communication channels, and not generic rules for traditional IT environments.

6. Inventory your current operational procedures used by personnel to maintain the cyber assets and communication channels used for control system operations. Review the procedures for vulnerabilities, and modify them as necessary.

This is only a start to the process of addressing the security needs of today’s control system environments. The risk is real. I can show you firsthand many ways that control system hardware, firmware, logic, and communication protocols are highly vulnerable to cyber attack. Building defenses does not have to be complicated, but it must be methodical. There are proven IT defensive techniques that can protect vulnerable ICS devices, but often those ICS devices are still vulnerable because many vendors do not have a security process within their software development lifecycle. 

Therefore, the first step is for you, the asset owner and operator, to learn about what you have, what you need, and how to protect your networks with walls and limited trusts. It is also up to you to request a cyber, physical, and operational vulnerability assessment for all new implementations, including how any new device is coupled to your existing infrastructure. It is then up to you as the asset owner and operator to take the necessary precautions to limit and monitor physical, cyber, and operational interactions with your control environment. For example, a laptop used by a technician should not be categorized as a tool. A laptop is very different from a hammer, and the intended use of the device may become compromised if not properly handled. Therefore, a laptop must be monitored differently than any other tool. This ideology has to transcend all aspects of your ICS environment. The cultural change and new responsibilities required are necessary but will not be an easy shift.

Matt Luallen is founder of Cybati, a security training and consulting organization.

ONLINE

https://cybati.org/

http://www.controleng.com/media-library/webcast-archive.html

https://www.sans.org/webcasts/industrial-control-systems-security-briefing-live-houston-tx-96727?ref=131632



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
World-class maintenance: The three keys to success - Deploy people, process and technology; 2016 Lubrication Guide; Why hydraulic systems get hot
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Flexible offshore fire protection; Big Data's impact on operations; Bridging the skills gap; Identifying security risks
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me