Industrial automation and control systems are increasingly online, sending out information and receiving commands from local and remote control centers and corporate data systems. Technologies in this Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) have tremendous potential to improve operations, reduce costs, enhance safety, increase revenue, and transform industrial processes. We cannot let security concerns undermine this transformation; security should enable it.
The threat of cyberattacks on industrial and critical infrastructure targets is growing rapidly, according to a global survey on cybersecurity. Companies are demanding effective cybersecurity to assist them in protecting their assets and people. Industrial control systems and plant operations need to ensure increased availability, reliability, and safety. This requires tighter collaboration among manufacturers, security developers, and industrial process vendors to protect control systems from known and unknown malware and misuse.
Security for IIoT devices has some unique characteristics. Unlike general purpose PCs, the data IIoT devices transfer can be categorized and controlled to reduce the likelihood and impact of a security breach. The code and applications these devices are allowed to run can also be similarly controlled, so application whitelisting is a useful technique to restrict access to only authorized code.
However, these systems may be separated from the corporate network or connected only intermittently. This makes it challenging to install system patches or signature updates. Security systems must be able to operate in either connected, disconnected, or isolated environments, defending against known and unknown attacks without relying on frequent updates.
Policy Management And Enforcement Are Key
The volume of these devices means physically touching all of them within a short period of time is highly unrealistic. It also means that having to manage individual devices is similarly unrealistic. Policy management and enforcement tools are required to ensure that only authorized changes are made to devices, without having to operate or review them individually. Analytic tools and event correlation need to bring serious and severe events to the attention of security operations quickly, without drowning the operations center in an overwhelming flood of minor events.
Protecting our critical infrastructure and the emerging IIoT from cyberthreats is a national priority. Collaboration enables integrated and validated industrial process solutions that can be more rapidly deployed, without sacrificing safety or reliability. The productivity potential of industrial automation and control systems is important to the future viability of manufacturing industries. Adequately addressing security will ensure the manufacturing base of our economy is not put at risk.