Industrial Network Cybersecurity: Defined, Explained, and Explored

   Dec 28, 2021 | Radiflow team

Securing industrial operational networks has become a serious business in recent years, and rightfully so. Cyber attacks and attempted breaches on industrial facilities have increased exponentially over the past 5 years and are predicted to continue on the same trajectory for those facilities which will have failed to update their security measures.


However, while the threat level is high, there are measures you can take to mitigate it and better protect your facility and personnel and maintain network uptime.


This purpose of this article review the changes in the industrial cybersecurity landscape, present industry best practices, and provide a guide for ensuring an optimal level of cybersecurity for your organization.


A Decade of Change – Industry 4.0


The digitization of industrial processes known as Industry 4.0, along with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), has streamlined many of the technological processes that define the way we live and what we consume. The IT-OT divide has been blurred: in a relatively short period, factories and other industrial facilities went from operating two separate systems, the physical components and the IT network, to operating a complex array of operational units.


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However, the IT/OT convergence prescribed by Industry 4.0 was often done without adequately protecting the IT-OT barrier from threats laterally moving between the two networks. Many facilities have failed to bring their security systems up-to-date, either because of budget constraints, or, more often, due to lack of awareness. You only need to look at the headlines to learn how widespread the problem is. The 2021 Colonial Pipeline attack and attempted breach of the Oldsmar water facility are two cases in point.


Best Practice Guidelines for Industrial Network Cybersecurity


Rising to the challenge of this new and constantly-evolving threat, governments and think-tanks around the world have created knowledge pools that enable security experts can collaborate, as well as best-practice guidelines for implementing industrial network security and management solutions. These include the MITRE ATT&CK framework created specifically for industry and manufacturing, guidelines produced and regularly updated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)’s weekly threat reports.


Best Practices include:

  1. Gain visibility. When it comes to ICS network monitoring, you cannot protect what you cannot see. For this reason, a visual network representation, in tandem with an asset management system, is crucial.
  2. Set in place a cybersecurity policy for your organization, and also for any third-party vendors/service providers who will be accessing your network.
  3. Move to a unified security system. IT and OT systems overlap and need to be monitored and protected as a complete network.
  4. If possible, transition to a risk-based ICS cybersecurity solution.
  5. Segmentation between zones/production units should be incorporated wherever possible in order to contain any breach and prevent it from spreading.
  6. Install an IDS/IPS (intrusion detection/prevention system): network threat detection and protection, using firewalls and one-way traffic with well-defined permissions, will increase ICS protection.
  7. Passwords must be regularly updated, and where possible, a biometric identification system should be installed.
  8. Perform ongoing network risk analysis to adjust your network security system in light of changes to the network device mix and newly discovered threats.


Putting the Guidelines into Practice – How to Make it work for You


Once you understand how cybersecurity for industrial networks has changed, and how important it is to protect your facility, the next step is to make the necessary changes. This can seem both daunting and costly, so it helps to approach it as a business decision and aim for an ROI-based solution.


Transitioning to a risk-based cybersecurity solution will provide you with a much clearer picture of which cyber threats pose the most danger to your organization vis-à-vis your risk tolerance. By prioritizing mitigation measures for the most valuable assets, you will have greater control of your overall ICS system, ensuring that you’re cybersecurity system provides the highest possible ROI.


Radiflow’s Comprehensive Cyber Security Solutions for Industrial Systems


Radiflow has developed a complete suite of products to provide the highest level of security for industrial, manufacturing and infrastructure systems. Radiflow’s CIARA automated risk analysis platform creates a virtual map (digital image) of the entire IT/OT network, including all assets, protocols, connections and IT systems. This virtual map can then be used for non-invasive breach attack simulations (BAS) in order to gain a clear understanding of your network’s security status. The results of the simulation are then translated into prioritized guidelines for any changes or updates to the organizations OT security system.


Finally, the risk-analysis process is repeated regularly, taking into account any new threats as well as any changes to your system, ensuring that your security measures are always up-to-date.


Radiflow has been recognized by Gartner as sole vendor in both the OT network monitoring and visibility, and the cyber-physical systems (CPS) risk-management categories.


For more information about Radiflow’s industrial network cybersecurity solutions, contact us today for a demo or to book your discovery call.

The digitization of industrial processes, known as Industry 4.0, has greatly increase the attack surface and risk posture of OT automation networks in practically every sector.


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