What To Look Out For When Protecting Cyber-Physical Systems

Digital transformation and the increasing convergence of physical and digital assets are bringing tremendous benefits to businesses and increasing cyber risk, as evidenced by attacks on oil pipelines, hospitals and other critical infrastructure. The affected devices have an enormous bandwidth, which makes their protection even more difficult. Therefore, the security of cyber-physical systems must be adjustable at a granular level to increase cyber resilience.

The advent of the enhanced Internet of Things (XIoT), the connected devices that form the basis of cyber-physical systems, poses new security challenges for all businesses. The complexity of this network of connected devices impacts businesses in different ways. One only has to look at the range of affected devices: This ranges from OT devices such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs) to building management systems (BMS) such as air conditioning or elevators and IoT devices such as security cameras to healthcare devices and IoMT devices such as infusion pumps and MRIs. How these devices are deployed, how they connect to the rest of the network, how important they are to business-critical processes and which threats pose a real risk varies from company to company. That’s why security leaders need a powerful yet simple way to customize their capabilities to monitor, identify, and respond to security risks and potential business disruptions.

Against this background, it becomes clear that there must be more than one solution for securing cyber-physical systems and maintaining operational resilience in a hyper-connected environment. Businesses need an easy-to-use suite of products that allows them to set the parameters for identifying and addressing the issues that matter most to them. This is of the utmost importance, especially about the new IT Security Act 2.0. In the future, numerous companies will fall into the area of ​​critical infrastructure and will have to invest accordingly in protecting their systems. In particular, the following three points should be considered.

The Security Of Cyber-Physical Systems Must Be Adaptable At A Granular Level

Every environment is unique. To achieve a high level of reliability, you have to record the individually most important factors of your infrastructure. The more variables that can be used to adjust one’s risk tolerance parameters, the better. In this way, for example, one can set alerts based on events that one can define oneself, such as B. Values ​​that are out of range or certain communications. This flexibility is essential for network protection and optimal detection and response. Still, it also allows a preventive maintenance program to be developed to avoid unplanned downtime and increase operational resilience. Security officers should be able to Also filter information by firmware and software versions and group assets in a way that is logical for your business. This information forms the basis for risk assessments, vulnerability management and incident investigation.

Only With Curated And Detailed Context Can Resilience Be Strengthened

As attacks become more sophisticated, context matters more and more. On the one hand, we experience numerous warnings that turn out to be false alarms and ultimately lead to alarm fatigue. On the other hand, advanced attacks often go unnoticed for a long time because security officers need the necessary context at their disposal. Using an algorithm based on the specific context and circumstances under which each alert is triggered provides a tailored metric to assess the risks present in each environment. The risk assessment of warning messages thus enables fast and effective prioritization when a response to a time-critical incident has to be taken since disruptive false alarms can be easily sorted out.

It should be possible to specify the relevant parameters. A granular risk assessment mechanism for each object in the network allows for a better understanding of the nature of an object’s risk to prioritize and remediate appropriate alerts and vulnerabilities more accurately. The overall risk assessment of a facility is based on individual ratings for susceptibility, criticality, accessibility, infection and threat. For example, climate values are highly critical for companies in the pharmaceutical or food industry that rely on temperature-sensitive processes. At the same time, other factors are more important in production facilities, for example.

Understanding Attack Behavior In The Context Of The Cyber-Physical Environment Is Crucial

Risk cannot be completely eliminated regardless of the level of visibility, threat detection, or controls used to manage vulnerabilities. Critical infrastructure companies are exposed to cyber threats- from malware to sabotage – and the trend is increasing. Security leaders need to understand the situational factors attackers use to take the right mitigation steps and mitigate risk.

Attack vector mapping identifies the most vulnerable assets and zones in the cyber-physical network and simulates how an attacker could penetrate that network. A visual representation shows all points at which to be alerted in the course of an attack: from the first alert that a new object (e.g. an attacker) has entered the environment, through the entire contextualized chain of events, to all Alerts related to an incident. The critical context surrounding each attack step allows security officials to stop an attacker before they reach a mission-critical part of the network and can do major damage.

Conclusion

There is no one-size-fits-all security solution for the connected enterprise. Rather, it is important to find a solution that can adapt to your circumstances and requirements and create the essential context. This is the only way security managers can identify which threats and security gaps pose a real risk to their company and effectively protect their unique environment.

Also Read: Industrial Cybersecurity: An Obligation To Do Industry 4.0

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