Industrial Cyber Security Becomes Increasingly Important

Cyber Security is always the “elephant in the room” at Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrial Control Systems (ICS) conferences.

The latest edition of the ARC Industry Forum in Orlando featured many cyber security firms. Most were monitoring network traffic for anomalies. Some look at other aspects of the system. More firms are pivoting from other emphases into a cyber security firm.

Here are two news items attacking cyber security from totally different angles. One from the enterprise; the other from the lowest level user.

Manage Cyber Security Risks

Deloitte, the enterprise consulting company, announced plans to expand its cyber risk platform for end-to-end industrial control systems (ICS) and operational technologies (OT) security with next generation technology enabled by Dragos, a cybersecurity company focusing on securing ICS and OT networks.

The tactic Deloitte is taking is to monitor emerging cyber threats. Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory Cyber Risk Services’ end-to-end ICS offering, enabled by Dragos technology, uses a combination of innovative cyber security products and services. This combination brings hunting and reconnaissance capabilities that now allow organizations to look beyond internal data to threat documentation found in external databases. Beyond securing ICS and OT systems, this combination of cyber risk services and technologies can provide a more complete picture of an organization’s ICS and OT threat landscape through active monitoring that can better inform scenario planning and response.

“Assessing the cyber risks of our clients’ ICS and OT, we see that many organizations are often unprepared for the magnitude of the impact to operational technology and industrial control systems environments” said Ed Powers, principal, Deloitte & Touche LLP, and U.S. leader for Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory Cyber Risk Services. “A decision to include OT and ICS as a part of a broader cyber risk management program can improve a company’s understanding of the potential damage resulting from a cyberattack and can bolster the efficacy of its cyber risk mitigation strategy.”

The Dragos Platform, Threat Operations Center, and intelligence team form an ecosystem of technology, people, and intelligence to safeguard industrial networks. The Dragos Platform is designed for industrial networks and provides visibility into the environment, detection of threats through behavioral analytics, and the automation of workflows including incident response data collection and analysis.

“There have been pockets of excellence around the community in industrial security leading practices. But the world is facing a more connected infrastructure and a more aggressive threat than we’ve seen in years past,” said Robert M. Lee, chief executive officer, Dragos. “Now is an important time to get the solution correct and that’s what the Dragos and Deloitte cooperation represents.” 

Protecting From USB Device Hacks

We all know about Stuxnet and how it was spread using malware in USB sticks. Well, here is an interesting tactic and new product from Honeywell.

Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) announced Secure Media Exchange (SMX) to protect facilities against current and emerging USB-borne threats, without the need for complex procedures or restrictions that impact operations or industrial personnel.

Malware spread through USB devices – used by employees and contractors to patch, update and exchange data with onsite control and computer systems – is a key risk for industrial control systems. It was the second leading threat to these systems in 2016, according to BSI publications, and uncontrolled USBs have taken power plants offline, downed turbine control workstations, and caused raw sewage floods, among other industrial accidents.

“Industrial operators often have hundreds or thousands of employees and dozens of contractors on site every day,” said Eric Knapp, Cyber Security chief engineer, HPS. “Many, if not most, of those rely on USB-removable media to get their jobs done. Plants need solutions that let people work efficiently, but also don’t compromise cyber security and, with it, industrial safety.”

Currently, many plants either ban USBs, which is difficult to enforce and significantly reduces productivity, or rely on traditional IT malware scanning solutions, which are difficult to maintain in an industrial control facility and provide limited protection. These solutions fail to protect process control networks against the latest threats, and offer no means to address targeted or zero-day attacks.

“SMX is a great example of Honeywell’s major investments in new industrial cyber security technologies, products, services, and research which further strengthen our ability to secure and protect industrial assets, operations and people,” said Jeff Zindel, vice president and general manager, Honeywell Industrial Cyber Security. “With the continued increase in cyber threats around the world, Honeywell’s industrial cyber security expertise and innovation are needed more than ever for smart industry, IIoT and critical infrastructure protection.”

Honeywell’s SMX was developed by the company’s cyber security experts based on field experience across global industrial sites and feedback from Honeywell User Group customers. Honeywell has one of the largest industrial cyber security research capabilities in the process industry, including an advanced cyber security lab near Atlanta. Honeywell also partners with cyber security leaders, including Microsoft, Intel Security and Palo Alto Networks, among others, to develop new, highly-effective industrial threat detection techniques.

Contractors “check-in” their USB drive by plugging it into an SMX Intelligence Gateway. The ruggedized industrial device analyzes files using a variety of techniques included with Honeywell’s Advanced Threat Intelligence Exchange (ATIX), a secure, hybrid-cloud threat analysis service.

SMX Client Software installed on plant Windows devices provides another layer of protection, controlling which USB devices are allowed to connect, preventing unverified USB removable media drives from being mounted, and stopping unverified files from being accessed. SMX also logs USB device connectivity and file access, providing a valuable audit capability.

“For most plants, the proliferation of removable media and USB devices is unavoidable, but the security risks they bring don’t have to be,” said Knapp. “We know our customers have limited resources to maintain another system, so Honeywell manages SMX for them. SMX never connects to our customers’ process control networks. From a system administration perspective, it’s like it’s not even there.”

Managed and maintained directly by Honeywell, SMX provides the easy and secure solution to USB security in industrial plants. It helps prevent the spread of malware through removable media; stops unverified files being read by Windows hosts; and, through the private ATIX connection, provides continually updated threat information and advanced analytics to help detect advanced, targeted, and zero-day malware.

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