In this blog, we will discuss why we need to do an OT Security Assessment. This not only applies to the facts for the previously deployed security solutions, but also to diversifying incident response planning and preparing for the current industry 4.0
Let us start with understanding OT Security
What Is ICS/SCADA (OT)?
OT generally referred to as Operational Technology is a sophisticated network of interactive ICS (Industrial Control Systems) that includes Sensors, Controllers and Monitoring/Control Applications. It is used in oil/gas, manufacturing plants, chemical/pharmaceutical plants, water/waste-water treatment plants, and wherever industrial automation and continuous/batch processing are needed.
SCADA is abbreviation for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. It is used in pipeline monitoring, traffic signals, electricity power generation, etc.
Why Is OT Security So Important?
Several firms have chosen stability over security by not updating their OT systems in the past. They must be up and functioning at all times, or the facility will lose critical real-time data and fall behind on production schedules.
One of the reasons why some OT systems are left alone is that delays or unplanned outages cost a business time and money. Plants around the world, on the other hand, may be working from equipment with minimal security measures and are growing more networked.
Here are the major security concerns:
These flaws are ideal for cybercriminals hunting for exploits and entry points into an industrial network. As a result of the importance of OT security, intrusions can have kinetic implications, such as a breaker trip that causes the lights to go out.
The number of attacks aimed exclusively at targeting the OT environment is increasing. Many of those attacks are on the company’s OT system and infrastructure, and result in plant or equipment outages.
Now we have to understand the reasons for getting OT security done!
1. You wanna “Secure what you have” in today’s converged IT and OT Architectural Gaps
Operational technologies were never designed with the intention of being exposed to the internet. The risk of OT assets has increased tremendously as the world moves towards Industry 4.0. The industrial cyber security community has noticed a terrible surge in industrial assaults as a result of the upgrade since the attack surface is increased now.
The fundamental issue is that developers/engineers never consider security concepts when designing operational technologies. Thus, they now implement additional security layers such as IDS, industrial firewalls, anomaly detection, and many more to protect it.
2. Gaining and maintaining visibility
This should go without saying, but just in case it doesn’t: asset visibility in the OT environment should be as constant as feasible.
Organizations can use one of two techniques to improve asset visibility: passive and low-impact active.
Passive, in this scenario, is simply listening and gathering as much data as possible from OT infrastructure devices and applications. The dangers to safety and reliability are greatly minimized; however, because you interact through devices, systems, and apps, it may take longer to acquire comparable amounts of data.
Despite the dramatic urge to conceive asset visibility as a means to detecting the hackers attempting to breach your environment, the OT security team’s capacity to grasp their environment’s proper situational awareness improves as the OT environment’s asset visibility improves.
Low-impact active, in this situation, active means systematically interrogating all network addressable equipment and applications in the infrastructure. If not done in a low-impact way, this can have negative consequences in OT situations, jeopardizing safety, and reliability.
However, effective asset visibility coordination between IT and OT will lower the security risk to a level that stakeholders will accept and increase detection of the organization’s most common threats.
3. Incident Response Planning
Incident management is one of the most critical disciplines for ensuring that operational services give value to consumers. The goal of incident planning is to reduce the negative impact of occurrences by resuming regular service functioning as soon as feasible.
Your incident response capability is constantly developing because the prospect of a new cyber threat or assault is always there.
The strategy or the training that you created earlier this year may already need to be modified. While you may make changes to your plans regularly, our reliance on digital transactions may expose new and more complicated weaknesses and exposure. A continuous incident response plan that actively controls the entire process for you is a more dependable and successful way.
Developing strategy, plans, playbooks, and procedures to support expected processes to anticipated occurrences and then exercising them is a critical element of incident planning.
4. If you conduct a risk assessment, it will drive emphasis on controls
OT Risk Assessment aids in determining whether cyber dangers exist in your environment structurally. Only after explicitly identifying these hazards can the effectiveness of (existing) interventions be determined.
This allows us to reason with the new countermeasures if required, and their potential effectiveness. Furthermore, determining the degree of identified risks allows for the selection and prioritization of countermeasures and determining if the implementation costs outweigh the possible repercussions.
Furthermore, a risk assessment can provide you with a comprehensive understanding of your organization’s strengths and vulnerabilities. This overview can then be utilized to increase the cyberattack readiness or avoid one by resolving the highlighted flaws.
OT risks, unlike IT risks, influence not just the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of production-specific data or processes, but also the facilities’ reliability of operation and safety.
As the backbone of any OT environment, different types of Industrial Control Systems (ICS) such as PLCs, DCS, and SCADA systems demand special attention. These distinctions should be taken into account when assessing risks and proposing countermeasures in such situations.
5. Biggest risk is not doing anything despite knowing about it (OT Risk Assessment)
Cyberattacks on Operational Technology (OT) are becoming more common and protecting your organization’s OT environment is more vital than ever. Adversaries enter networks in a variety of ways, causing a wide range of financial losses, either directly by halting or reducing production, or indirectly by stealing and selling your company’s trade secrets.
Countermeasures must be identified and deployed to lessen the odds of a cyberattack. Implementing these countermeasures poorly or not at all is a danger for your company.
Analysis of few well-known OT attacks can help in understanding the risk of not conducting an OT security assessment, better.
Effective ICS/SCADA security begins with the senior management support and with clear vision, strategy, and Governance Model. Maturity Assessment of your environment will help the organization to understand current maturity level and where you want to go. Next follows Risk Assessment which helps you to Identify Risks, Mitigate, Transfer, and bring the Risk to the acceptable level. Additional technical assessments in OT will help the organization to build the Vulnerability Management Program. All in all, organizations should take a holistic approach covering People-Process-Technology.
How Can Payatu Help You with Your OT Security Needs?
We provide a holistic OT assessment including maturity, compliance, risk assessment, and technical security testing to identify the security risks associated with your industrial systems. The service comprises threat analysis, business impact, risk grading, and remedy recommendations. Our evaluation follows security standards like NIST and ISA/IEC 62443.