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How Can Industries Use Critical Infrastructure Protection Against Cyberthreats?

By CIOReview | Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Cyber threats on critical infrastructure have become rampant in recent years. The time has come to take action toward securing networks without any delay.

FREMONT, CA: The cyber defenders have always focused on dangers to industries’ IT networks, oblivious of the fact that the real danger is on the operational technologies (OT) of critical infrastructure operators, like the intricate industrial control systems utilized to manage the pumps, generators, valves, and other equipment utilized to operate trains, power and water utilities, other industrial assets.

However, with the world becoming more digitalized, the many complex industrial control systems are connected to the Internet, which makes them susceptible to hacking. Many of these industrial control systems were not integrated with cybersecurity software. Hence, they have become the easiest target for hackers as their older systems are connected to the Internet. So, it is not surprising that the threat vector faced by critical infrastructure operators have proliferated.

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Fortunately, there are some ways to overcome critical infrastructure threats. For starters, critical infrastructure operators must view their IT and OT networks holistically and build a comprehensive map of all the assets—software and hardware—linked to the Internet, inclusive of their industrial control systems.

The security teams can mitigate risks by cyber-mapping their company’s assets, especially by adopting a zero-trust strategy. This implies checking every device in their networks and weighing the risk of being breached. Moreover, it will also require adjustment of many staff’s privileges. It might even disconnect some industrial control systems from the IT network entirely.

Besides, critical infrastructure operators need to act quickly for implementing personalized cyber solutions for their ICS-OT. The enterprise necessarily first makes an entire inventory of all their industrial control systems while purchasing an ICS-OT solution and then ensure that the solution is supporting all the models, firmware, and protocols used in their company.

With new cyber threats emerging every day, critical infrastructure security teams should never set and forget their cybersecurity systems and should constantly seek to detect new risks. Penetration testing, where external consultants act as black-hat hackers, helps security teams in identifying threats. Besides, numerous cybersecurity startups are now offering easily integrated AI-based solutions that constantly probe networks for susceptibilities, allowing security teams to patch new vulnerabilities in real-time.

Finally, every business should provide comprehensive security awareness and training lessons for their workers.

In a nutshell, implementing all these steps is still not a panacea, and well-resourced countries maintain their ability to overwhelm even the finest defenses. The time has come now for the enterprises to harden their critical infrastructure.

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