Industrial cybersecurity: a strategic project that must not be underestimated

As traditional industrial systems and Operational Technology (OT) become more connected, cyber threats unique to this sector represent a significant danger for the industry. There are plenty of examples to highlight the serious vulnerability of many players: energy, transport, etc. In this context, cyberterrorism can harm not only production, but also the image of industrial players. Establishing a security policy that is tailored to this industry makes good headway towards protecting it against digital threats and helping it to prepare for the future of the industry calmly and carefully.

Protecting your production line from A to Z

As the age-old saying goes, time is money. Any vulnerability in your network represents; considerable human, environmental, financial but also data leak risks. New attacks regularly show the weakness of unprotected systems. However, operational constraints reduce opportunities for updating the infrastructures. So it makes sense to rely on central devices that cover both Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT), to ensure that production systems benefit from a combination of protection measures with no negative impact on business.

Workstations: a weak spot in the security chain no more

In a Microsoft Windows environment, which is the mainstay of the industrial sector, workstations are weak spots in the operations system. An efficient infrastructure must cope with highly sophisticated cyberattacks as well as negligence, a major cause of cybersecurity incidents. For example, this can involve the use of various advanced components such as behavioral analysis or control of peripheral devices such as USB keys that are a real danger and can expose the industrial system to various intrusions.

Secure remote workstations and remote access

Sometimes an industrial system must also be opened up for supervision, remote maintenance operations or for optimizing the process (IOT and cloud computing). Unfortunately, this creates a weakness in the system that cybercriminals will certainly exploit. So be sure to rely on integrated environments to ensure that remote access is well protected and that the remote workstation is secure.

Guarantee high network availability

The safety team objective is to ensure that no matter what, within the safety regulations, the system is properly working. It then is required that the security devices are compatible with the in place processes. High availability or “fail-open”* mechanism becomes mandatory.

These various elements demonstrate that the convergence between IT and OT is required. IT cyber protection has proven to be important when the OT cyber protection is only becoming a subject. Yet, the risks over industrial systems are different than the ones of the information technology. The two worlds, which until today, got alone independently, are showing signs of getting closer, but must learn from each other in order to reduce the cyber security risks.

 

* “Fail open”: A system set to fail open does not shut down when failure conditions are present. Instead, the system remains “open” and operations continue as if the system were not even in place.

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About the author

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Robert Wakim
Industrial Offer Manager, Stormshield

Graduated in both Econometrics and Computer Science, Robert has been in the computer industry for more than 10 years. Starting as a developer, he joined Stormshield in 2011, then took the head of the Research and Development team in Paris, he is now the Industrial Offer Manager.

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