The Industrial Control Systems (ICS) security solutions segment includes anti malware/antivirus, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) mitigation, encryption, firewall, Identity and Access Management (IAM), Intrusion Detection System/Intrusion Prevention System (IDS/IPS), security and vulnerability management, security configuration management, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), White listing, honeypots/deception technology platforms, security patch management, and web filtering. ICS plays a vital role in multiple disciplines including general manufacturing, civil nuclear, power generation, power distribution, utilities, transportation, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, weather forecasting, water & wastewater treatment, and discrete manufacturing, among others.
Large industrial organizations and critical infrastructure processes are always under pressure to meet the demands of end users. Due to this, facility owners and operators are increasingly looking towards modern information technology as a cost-efficient mode of improving efficiency and productivity of their operations, through the use of automation and control system.
Most operators do not have situational awareness regarding legacy equipment and the increasingly frequent and sophisticated cybersecurity attacks on control systems. Recognizing the emergence of system reliability and security vulnerabilities, engineers and security professionals have begun to actively encourage converging traditional operational technology (OT) with innovative IT operations such as ICS-specific solutions.
ICS network monitoring can help maintain the reliability of mission-critical equipment. The system provides real-time visibility of misconfigurations, remote connections operating improperly, and incorrect commands unintentionally introduced due to human error. Monitoring the network also provides the visibility needed to reduce activities such as unauthorized access and suspicious communication within the control system.
Sophisticated technology that supports reliability efforts remains the number one priority for most IT engineers, as ICS cybersecurity benefits are proving to be a feasible solution in today’s connected world.
Encryption solutions for ICS are expected to grow in the coming years. Encryption is the cryptographic transformation of data (plaintext) into a form (ciphertext) that hides the original meaning of the data to prevent it from being known or used. In an ICS environment, encryption can be deployed as part of a comprehensive, enforced security policy. Encrypting ICS helps industrial customers protect their data and lessens the seriousness of frequent attacks, such as data thefts and DDoS attacks. Encryption solutions within an ICS environment can help reduce the additional time and computing resources required to encrypt, decrypt, and authenticate each message.
Encryption hardware needs to be protected from physical tampering and uncontrolled electronic connections. Organizations can use cryptographic protection with remote key management if the hardware has various units or is geographically dispersed. The common forms of physical authentication include dongles with secure encryption keys that attach to USB, serial, or parallel ports of computers. Managing master encryption algorithms and master passwords are more complex and play a vital role in the ICS security scheme as more parties are involved in security processes.
Every ICS solution is customer-specific and needs to be designed as per the requirements of the facility and life cycle of the current IT and OT infrastructure.
Secured OT networks and basic security controls in industrial processes, like authentication and encryption, are needed to prevent and protect ICS from external attacks. Most industrial processes do not support encrypted communication. The most important challenge that industries face when securing ICS networks is that several different communication protocols are used within ICS networks.
The control-layer protocols used to configure automation controllers, update their logic, make code changes or download firmware employ their proprietary implementation and vendor-specific protocols. Since these implementations are rarely documented, it becomes challenging to monitor such crucial activities.
In the case of critical infrastructure organizations, some malicious software may exist on customer systems. Potential attackers could disrupt critical systems and processes without anyone understanding what has happened to the system. Several cases exist wherein systems were found hosting software that shouldn’t have been there.
Threats and challenges faced by ICS security market
Threats to industrial control systems can arise from various adversarial, accidental, structural, and environmental sources. A Risk Management Strategy for ICS helps to protect the system against these potential threat sources.
- ADVERSARIAL – Individuals, groups, or organizations that use inadequate authentication, privileges, and access control in software could lead to fraudulent ICS network activity. Unauthorized access to programming software and configuration could lead to the corruption of a device.
- ACCIDENTAL – Erroneous actions taken by individuals in the course of executing their regular job. ICS software may not be able to validate user inputs properly or receive data to ensure validity. Invalid data may result in vulnerabilities such as buffer overflows, command injections, cross-site scripting, and path traversals.
- STRUCTURAL/Internal – Failures of environmental controls, equipment, or software due to aging, resource depletion, or other circumstances which exceed the expected operating parameters. Without adequate backups, situations like a loss of power could lead to shutting down of the ICS and could create a potentially unsafe situation.
- ENVIRONMENTAL – Natural disasters and failures of critical infrastructures on which the organization depends could lead to equipment damage. Some processors shut down immediately to protect themselves, while others may continue to operate at minimal capacity.
The major factors that limit the growth of the ICS security market include power outage due to frequent security updates and legacy ICS being more prone to cyber-attacks. Legacy IT security solutions are unable to safeguard systems from industrial threats; hence, there is a need for next-generation cybersecurity solutions that can protect the OT environment. Industries/organizations could make ICS network security monitoring inherent to new emerging equipment to increase protection and prevent security breaches.