Embracing Modern Industrial Security Practices

Embracing Modern Industrial Security Practices
If we fully trusted the locks on our doors to keep our homes secure from outside threats, then why do we add home alarms and other advanced security measures to keep intruders out, or to alert us if they attempt to get in?

Why do we buy safes for our valuables in case someone gets passed our first and second methods of defense? Once someone is inside our house, how can we keep them from taking our things?

You may be asking yourself the same question when it comes to keeping your plant operations secure: “Am I doing enough to protect my legacy equipment?”

What else can I do to make sure that I have multiple layers of defense in case of unplanned incidents?

Here are the top 3 reasons why keeping your security products and policies current is important to help confirm that your operations are safer against internal and external threats.

1. Most legacy equipment was not built with security in mind.

This becomes especially concerning when you consider that plant systems are converging and integrating with enterprise IT technologies. Many plant managers can be reluctant to do these types of updates based on overall cost and schedule disruptions, but the reality is that the risk of a cyber-attack can be higher when working with outdated, unprotected equipment.

As part of the same converged, IP-based network, unsecured equipment can expose your entire system to risk. The impact on operations due to a security breach can result in unplanned downtime, costly machine damage and lost brand equity.

When migrating from a traditional industrial control system network to a standard Ethernet and IP network, it’s important to have a networks and security specialist assess your system for possible vulnerabilities and help design and implement a secure network architecture.

With devices such as an industrial firewall, you get additional support such as deep packet inspection (DPI) capabilities that can allow for patching against these vulnerabilities through blocking of malicious actions according to the granular security policies assigned.

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2. As technology advances, vulnerabilities to internal and external threats increase.

Now, more than ever in the automation space, plants are being managed across multiple sites, with old and new equipment, by multiple people of different access levels increasing the chance for potentially malicious threats.

Often our perception of a cyber-attack includes a hacker with bad intentions sitting behind a computer screen trying to break into our most confidential information. What about internal personnel who make a mistake? All organizations have to account for human error and find ways to combat such threats.

3. Industrial security requires an in-depth approach to help keep operations secure.

To maintain a smooth-running operation, you must take proper precautions, from the enterprise down to the devices on a machine. For example, an industrial firewall can be implemented to help provide protection in front of equipment in the Cell/Area Zone level of the plant floor.

Adding an industrial firewall to the lower levels of your network architecture helps prevent potentially malicious traffic between devices and provides protection against unintentional configurations of devices.

Paired with deep packet inspection (DPI) technology, more visibility and control for implementing policies around access, applications and protocols within an industrial control system (ICS) can be achieved.

DPI intelligently determines the contents of a particular packet, allowing for granular policy enforcement and control to help proactively address system risks. Now more than ever, it is important to consider how the state of your current equipment could be exposing your plant floor to increased vulnerabilities.

To help maintain an effective security strategy, implementing a defense-in-depth approach, including an advanced industrial firewall, is needed to help protect legacy equipment and combat internal and external threats more effectively.

Visit our web site to learn more about how a security appliance with DPI capabilities can help identify and protect your system against potential risks.

Divya Venkataraman
Posted November 14, 2016 By Divya Venkataraman, Global Product Manager, Rockwell Automation
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