With an increasing number of cyber threats, securing a manufacturing site is more important than ever
Industrial Control Systems (ICS) work in unison with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA) to convey monitoring and analysis services to manufacturers. This information gets relayed instantly. The SCADA systems have been around since the 1960s and are ill prepared for the ever dynamic and advanced cyber risks posed by cybercriminals. Demystifying risk assessment, especially in the manufacturing industry docket calls for recognition and addressing of the challenges ailing the SCADA technologies.
What is SCADA?
A combo of both hardware and software makes up SCADA networks, which guide and act as overwatch to industrial processes. They give manufacturers an avenue to operate devices, key in data into the system, and control local and far-flung activities in the firm.
Meaning of Risk Assessment for SCADA systems
Just like other risk assessment processes, SCADA follows laid down steps to manage risk. It is prudent for the manufacturing industry to be keen on:
- Asset Cataloging
- Risk Identification
- Risk Analysis
- Risk Mitigation
- Risk Tolerance
- Continuous Monitoring
The above activities must focus on manufacturing compliance and guiding it to fit in industry-specific systems.
Differences between the conventional IT security risk and SCADA
The traditional IT security risk can lay the basis for business disruptions, leading to financial losses, while SCADA, on the other hand, poses far-reaching effects ranging from production loss to loss of lives. SCADA systems are a favorite target for cybercriminals, as they host and control vital infrastructure for the firm.
SCADA systems are a critical part of the firm, and thus should have unmatched reliability. A minor downtime or system glitch can leave the whole system exposed to unforgiving cybercriminals. These systems are safer under quality assurance testing than internal beta testing. The founding systems and software were rigid and did not readily support upgrades, denying manufacturers the chance to update their systems. Enter SCADA, a specialized system that boasts a prolonged lifespan and embraced both system and software upgrades. This characteristic boost security updates and prepares your firm for any cyber risks.
Risk analysis in the manufacturing industry
Raw materials pose manageable risks to the manufacturing industry. The environmental dangers brought by end products, raw materials, by-products, or waste products can be tested and contained. Nevertheless, SCADA cybersecurity checks the supply chain from both ends, scanning for risks. Adequately securing the system remains an uphill task as most are often old and outdated, making them prone to cyber-attacks.
Identification of SCADA connections
Each SCADA network connection is subject for review for useful risk analysis in the manufacturing industry. These network connections are:
- Internal, Local and Wide Area Networks
- Public Internet
- Wireless Network Devices (including satellites)
- Modem Connection
- Supply Chain Connections (business partners, vendors, and regulatory agencies)
Isolation of the SCADA Network
Every network connected to the SCADA creates a potential risk, as it is a potential pathway for cybercriminals. Securing data transfers, mainly by controlling access to business networks, is vital. This isolation can be done by use of data warehousing or incorporating demilitarized zones into the system. Manufacturers should constantly scrutinize configurations to enhance safety.
Manage remaining vulnerabilities
After isolation of the SCADA network, potential risks may still be present. Thus, manufacturers should conduct rigorous penetration testing and involve a continuous vulnerability management team. Setting up a firewall, and inclusion of an intrusion detection system (IDS) and additional security measures should undergo regular review for mitigation of all vulnerabilities.
Toughen up the SCADA networks
Unnecessary or dormant services should be disabled. SCADA control servers heavily rely on commercial operating systems, and these systems are vulnerable to risks, as cybercriminals exploit these neglected dormant services and force their way into the system. Therefore, no feature should get incorporated into the system without undergoing rigorous risk scrutiny.
During the inclusion of third-party vendors to handle communications between the servers and field services, there is a need for configuration of all devices introduced and products too. Default configurations supplied by vendors pose a security risk, as these may fall into the wrong hands. Therefore, it is prudent to compel the vendors to share all the weaknesses that may expose your system to cyber-attacks.
Implementation of security features.
Modern SCADA systems come with onboard security features, which are often disabled by vendors to ease installation. However, older versions lacked the in-built security feature, and thus, manufacturers need to ensure older devices and systems get equipped with device security features and necessary security patches for optimum safety.
Create fool-proof authentication protocols
Vendor connections need to get secured by disabling internal access to modems, wired, and wireless networks which get used for both communication and maintenance processes.
Scrutiny of daily logs, network monitoring, system logging, and constant monitoring of all system activities prepare the manufacturer to spot any threat as soon as possible. Inclusion of continuous intrusion monitoring and incidence response measures should be a priority for their SCADA systems.
Perform technical audits
Manufacturers need to put in place security tools that give administrators the capability to spot common vulnerability, identify active services and patch levels. When the manufacturer prioritizes alerts, this keeps their firm a step ahead in security.
Secure system physical access
The era of cybercriminals solely gaining access into systems through networks is long gone. Cases of physical infiltration into the buildings that house servers are on the rise. Manufacturers should take part in physical surveys that prioritize SCADA connection access. Regular physical checks should be conducted to ensure that no links and cables, or devices that got illegally plugged into the system.
Involve ethical hackers
White-hat hackers are teams of ethical hackers who are hired to test the resilience of your systems. They can effectively be used to check whether your SCADA system can withstand, repel, and report cyber-attacks. Contracting these hackers prepare manufacturers to curb internal and external intrusion, hence fostering risk management.
Risk assessment in the manufacturing industry is vital in warding off all threats. SCADA comes in handy in keeping your whole system safe and sound. Possessing the knowhow on the various loopholes cybercriminals can capitalize on keeps manufacturers informed on areas that need utmost attention. Additionally, mastery of the appropriate risk management steps in the manufacturing industry, will give you an edge in risk management, and help you secure your system from risks that may have detrimental impacts on your firm.