Content Author

John Elder

Senior ICS Security Consultant

Securing Industrial Control Systems Through Design

Securing Industrial Control Systems Through Design

John Elder

Senior ICS Security Consultant

Trends continue to indicate that cyber-attacks specifically targeting Industrial Control Systems (ICS) are increasing over time. Within the last 18 months’ new malware strains have been identified which have had a direct and significant impact on ICS environments.

With user-friendly frameworks and tools readily available which automate the discovery and attack of systems, it has never been easier for threat actors to engage in cybercrime. Combining this fact with the growing trend to connect inadequately secured ICS to public networks and the global ICS cyber security skills shortage, it is unlikely that attacks targeted against ICS will decrease anytime soon.

The benefits of addressing cyber security early

Despite these trends, cyber security is so often seen as a burden to a project where a commonly displayed attitude is to ‘sweep the issue under the carpet’ or ‘deal with it at a later stage’.

A common argument for not properly addressing cyber security on a project is the ‘lack of budget or time’ available. In such instances, is it likely that the budget or time will be available to facilitate reworking the design to address cyber security requirements in the latter phases of the project life cycle?

When executing an ICS project, the importance of addressing the cyber security requirements of the project at the ‘Analysis & Planning’ phase cannot be stressed enough. This statement applies to all ICS projects, regardless of whether the project is a completely new, yet to be deployed ICS, or a service pack to augment the functionality of a legacy system, such as adding remote functionality.

By taking this early approach of addressing cyber security requirements as soon as possible, there are several benefits to be reaped, which include;

Increased Reliability: Addressing cyber security requirements during the ‘Analysis & Planning’ phase means control systems are less likely to be afflicted with cyber security issues such as product compatibility or cyber-attack in later phases.

Positive Company Image: Delivering control systems that are secure shows responsibility and portrays the company in a positive manner. Many do not address cyber security correctly so taking the time to deliver compliant and secure systems could potentially lead to repeat business.

Security Assurance: By developing and conducting tailored Security Factory Acceptance Test (SFAT) and Security Site Acceptance Test (SSAT) procedures, it is possible to provide the required security assurance level for asset owners, integrators and suppliers. This principle is no different from the FAT/SAT testing that would be conducted on any other project.

Time and Financial Savings: By properly planning for cyber security in the ‘Analysis & Planning’ phase it is far less likely there will be unexpected issues later in the project life cycle which could in turn impact on project budget and deadlines.

More support available than ever to address cyber security requirements

The good news is that despite trends indicating attacks against ICS are rising, the support available to help organisations properly address the cyber security requirements placed on projects is also increasing.

In response to the growing need to consistently and effectively address cyber security, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) released their new IEC 62443 standard, ‘Security for industrial process measurement and control’, to help mitigate against cyber security vulnerabilities and attacks on asset owners. In collaboration with the International Society of Automation (ISA), IEC 62443 describes how security practitioners, integrators, and manufacturers should interact to ensure the security and safety of their facilities and components. Applied Risk has in-depth knowledge of reviewing and designing complex process control networks based on ISA99/IEC 62443, taking into consideration functional and security requirements. With this knowledge, Applied Risk can help asset owners, operators and suppliers to address the risks and challenges of process control security and design.

Contact us to learn more about Applied Risk’s Industrial Automation and Control Systems(IACS) Security services.

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