Collaborative strategies are key to enhanced ICS security

In this Help Net Security interview, Marko Gulan, Cyber Security Consultant at Schneider Electric, discusses the complexities of safeguarding industrial control systems (ICS).

Our conversation will explore the importance of cross-departmental collaboration, balancing security with system functionality, and the dynamic nature of security measures that evolve with emerging threats. We’ll also look at the critical synergy between IT and OT departments and the role of the IEC 62443 standards in staying ahead in the threat landscape.

industrial control systems

Implementing cybersecurity strategies can be overwhelming for many organizations. Can you shed some light on the best starting point for crafting a solid ICS security roadmap?

When it comes to implementing security strategies, this can be overwhelming for many organizations. However, there are certain guidelines that can help create a solid roadmap for the safety of industrial control systems (ICS).

The best place to start creating a safety route for ICS is to start with a risk assessment. Understanding what are the sensitive points and what possible threats are to your system allows you to prioritize and focus on the most critical areas. Analyzing vulnerabilities and potential attack scenarios helps identify the steps to take to ensure the security of your ICS.

It is also important to establish cooperation between multiple departments within the organization to ensure that everyone understands, collaborates and works towards the same goal of safety. This includes IT, OT and all other relevant departments. Only an integrated approach to all aspects of security will ensure the smooth functioning of critical systems.

When prioritizing security measures, you need to ensure a balance between security and functionality. The application of security measures must be in line with the needs of critical systems to ensure their smooth functioning. This may include implementing protective systems, conducting regular updates and upgrades, and educating staff about security procedures. The use of the plan-build-manage methodology, in addition to testing and evaluation of security measures, enables continuous improvement of safety while ensuring smooth performance of critical tasks.

How do you prioritize security measures while ensuring the uninterrupted functioning of critical systems?

When prioritizing security measures, it is essential to ensure the smooth functioning of critical systems. Achieving a balance between safety and functionality is key.

The first step is to identify critical systems and determine their importance to the organization. After that, risks should be analyzed and potential threats and weaknesses that could affect these systems should be identified.
Next, a detailed vulnerability assessment should be carried out to identify the most critical security flaws. Based on this information, a plan can be developed that includes priority security measures.

It is important to apply a layered or layered approach to security, which means setting up more measures to create multiple defenses. This includes the application of technical security controls, such as firewalls, antivirus programs, encryption, and access controls. Organisational and procedural measures, such as regulations, employee training and identity management, should also be considered.

Regularly updating and upgrading security measures is also key. As threats evolve, new security information needs to be monitored and existing security controls improved. This includes testing and evaluating the system and carrying out clearly defined procedures for detecting and responding to security incidents.

Finally, partnering with recognized IT security professionals can be very helpful. They will be able to provide advice and guidance when making decisions on security measures, providing reliable expertise and support to maintain the security of critical systems.

How essential is the synergy between IT and OT departments in tackling the unique cybersecurity challenges in industrial sectors? And what are the benefits of cross-training these departments?

Cooperation between IT (information technology) and OT (operational technology) departments is extremely important to address unique security challenges in industrial sectors. The IT department is usually responsible for managing computer systems, networks, and data, while the OT department manages operating systems, industrial control systems, and sensors.

Synergy between these departments allows for a better understanding and confrontation of threats involving industrial control systems. IT teams have expertise in information security, and OT teams have years of experience working with industrial systems. By combining the knowledge of both departments, one can proactively identify and address security vulnerabilities and threats.

The advantages of training these departments with each other are many. First, understanding both aspects – INFORMATION and industrial technology – allows for more effective identification and analysis of security challenges that are specific to the industrial sectors. Also, the exchange of knowledge and experience between departments allows for better cooperation and coordination in solving security problems.

In addition, mutual education opens up opportunities for the development of new approaches to security. IT and OT departments can identify potential threats and jointly develop innovative solutions that target the specific needs of industrial systems.

Finally, the integration of IT and OT departments helps create a culture of security that encompasses all aspects of an organization’s business. Through training, teams can develop safety awareness, adhere to safety procedures, and apply best practices.

In short, cooperation between IT and OT departments is key to addressing unique security challenges in the industrial sectors. Mutual training of these departments brings numerous benefits in terms of better understanding and management of security threats, innovative solutions and the development of a culture of security.

The IEC 62443 series of standards has been hailed as a solution to many threats. What makes this particular standard so comprehensive and adaptable in the face of the evolving threat landscape?

The standard IEC 62443 series is recognized as a solution to many threats. What makes this standard so comprehensive and customizable considering the evolving threat landscape is a combination of several key features.

First, the IEC 62443 standard is specifically designed for ICS and OT. This means that it focuses on addressing the security challenges and needs of the industrial sectors, taking into account their unique technical, operational and business requirements.

Second, this standard provides a comprehensive framework for ICS security management. This includes risk assessment, identification of vulnerabilities, establishment of safeguards, security maintenance and incident management. This ensures a holistic approach to security, including technical, organizational, and procedural aspects.

Third, the IEC 62443 standard is dynamic and adaptable, following changes in the threat landscape. It is regularly updated and upgraded to respond to new attack techniques, vulnerabilities and security challenges that arise over time. This ensures that the standard is always relevant and capable of facing evolving threats.

In addition, the IEC 62443 standard also promotes cooperation between various stakeholders, including manufacturers, operators, system integrators and security professionals. This joint action provides additional support and expertise in implementing standards and addressing security challenges.

The combination of comprehensiveness, adaptability, updates and collaboration makes IEC 62443 a standard that is recognized as a solution to many threats in the industrial sectors.

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