Managing Cloud Security For Industrial Control Systems And Operational Technology

To maintain the same level of security across their IT and OT environments, organizations need an integrated cybersecurity platform.

Our cyber-physical world is becoming increasingly digitized, which forces organizations to adopt new operational processes to stay competitive. As a region with diverse economies and societies, Asia Pacific is facing significant challenges with protecting OT with ICS that power critical services, such as water, power, oil and gas, telecommunications, and transportation. Within the region, governments are pushing for initiatives to boost the resilience of critical infrastructure against increasing cyber threats in response to the growing complexity and risks.

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Nevertheless, technology-driven innovation is arguably moving at a faster pace than ever before, making it difficult for security controls to be continuously enforced. When implementing OT cloud security, security teams must be able to address the following challenges:

  • The surface of attack is broad:

The attack surface continues to broaden exponentially due to the convergence of Information Technology (IT) and operational technology networks, as well as increased cloud adoption.

  • Misconfigurations of the cloud:

On top of the widened attack surface, misconfigured cloud-based resources leave critical OT environments vulnerable. Malicious actors causing havoc by moving laterally within the OT infrastructure can take advantage of misconfigurations.

  • The legacy IT landscape:

Legacy hardware and software that are decades old can introduce a range of vulnerabilities to the infrastructure when they are moved to the cloud. Cybercriminals have the opportunity to use historical methods to gain access and perform reconnaissance before employing more sophisticated techniques once they have reached their target.

Creating a robust security plan for the cloud

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution era, pro-actively protecting ICS is crucial to successful risk mitigation. Data must be protected as it flows between OT and IT infrastructures amidst the digitization of operations. As new hybrid infrastructures are developed, cybersecurity should be woven into their initial plans along with centralized network security across the IT and OT environments with a network operations center (NOC), along with all application and platform security.

In addition, securing the business edge requires a multicloud, multi-cloud, and hybrid approach to cloud security. To achieve continuous earned trust, organizations can implement an adaptive cloud security strategy that consists of four pillars:

  1. In the Zero Trust security model: Segmentation based on intent can isolate workflows and applications by interpreting business and security requirements, then automatically converting them into segmentation policies.
  2. Network security-driven architecture: An integrated security platform enables access control and segmentation by integrating network infrastructure with security architecture.
  3. Security in the cloud networks: Connecting resources to protect against multiple threat vectors while implementing consistent models and integrating third-party applications.
  4. AI-driven security operations: Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in combination with automated processes can detect and neutralize threats at the speed of business.

Converging IT and OT environments: Securing them

OT can move to the cloud-like any other infrastructure expansion, but the benefits can outweigh the risks. To mitigate these potential risks, organizations must simultaneously implement a robust security strategy. The goal is to improve processes, enhance analytical accuracy, and reduce errors using automation. An organization must understand the complexity of the infrastructure it supports and view these IT/OT interconnected layers as systems within systems to secure them. From the plant floor up through the cloud, there should be a security across the OT architecture. As firms embrace a digitally transformed IT/OT environment, visibility remains a primary problem to address.

By implementing a platform built around a common operating system and management framework, organizations can address the transformational challenges associated with moving to the cloud. As a result, the system is constantly assessing risks and automatically adjusting to provide comprehensive real-time protection.

In addition to providing seamless interoperability and complete visibility, an integrated cybersecurity platform also provides granular control for hybrid deployments.

Organizations can provide security by network operations center design with the broadest set of offerings to maintain the same level of security across IT and OT networks. To eliminate silos and provide better visibility, the centralized management system allows OT businesses to configure, manage, and monitor all components.

In addition, an integrated security architecture minimizes threat detection and response times as well as enables automated incident response to enhance threat remediation across the extended network.

It is a concept that is top of mind across OT and embodies the ICS infrastructure upon which they are built. Each of these security components works together to provide secure, long-term operations. OT leaders can achieve omnipresence for their new cloud businesses by identifying and adopting services that maintain sustained situational awareness.

The fundamentals of effective security design

  • An integrated security framework should support and enable advanced data analysis, as well as the ability to automatically create new defenses across the entire attack cycle when those analytics detect previously unknown threats. As well as being capable of operating autonomously within simple environments, this system should also be interconnected with advanced network operations center (NOC) and security operations center (SOC) solutions, which include extended detection and response (XDR) and security information and event management (SIEM).
  • If a threat is detected, this security fabric must be able to rapidly launch a coordinated response across the entire ecosystem. By doing so, the attack sequence is broken before any of its objectives are accomplished. The use of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) in combination with dynamically generated playbooks makes this possible without introducing delays or human errors.
  • In today’s digital world, change is the only constant, so security fabrics need to be dynamic, meaning that they must be designed to scale up and out as the networks they secure grow and adapt. Security and network components and functions must be deeply integrated for organizations to continuously innovate and expand their operations and networking ecosystems without sacrificing security.

Engineer support for securing your networks

It is the responsibility of a network engineer to ensure that end-users have access to the best possible network infrastructure, security, and performance.

Many engineers in network engineering can meet today’s needs. You can find network engineers using on-demand marketplaces such as FieldEngineer (FE) to expand your security services business. Start hiring freelancers today!