Industrial control systems refer to the control systems and associated instrumentation used to facilitate automation and control in industrial settings. They serve numerous important purposes such as streamlining business practices and reducing human error in critical applications. Unfortunately, however, such systems are highly vulnerable to cyberattacks. To keep these crucial systems up and running, make sure to familiarize yourself with these top threats to industrial control systems and take measures to mitigate them.
Originally, industrial control systems were closed-off operational technology (OT) systems designed for use in controlled, isolated areas. Thus, they required a very small amount of security and protection against outside threats. Amidst the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), however, industrial control networks have transformed into more rugged networks and converged with IT networks to achieve greater flexibility and control, among other benefits.
As a result of this combination, the previously closed-off systems now allow for outside communication, leaving them vulnerable to potential external attacks. To mitigate this serious and prevalent threat, it’s essential to implement effective cybersecurity measures such as securing your industrial network devices, segmenting your networks, restricting your host-to-host communication pathways, and regularly monitoring the network.
Another one of the top threats to industrial control systems is human error. Unfortunately, many security breaches occur simply as the result of a careless accident. For example, an employee may input the wrong settings or make a programming error that creates vulnerabilities in the system.
While eliminating human error entirely is a bit of a pipe dream, there are many measures that you can take to reduce it as much as possible. Namely, it’s essential to ensure that all employees within your company receive proper training regarding optimal practices and procedures to prevent costly mistakes from occurring.
In some cases, the cause of an industrial control system security breach is no accident. Sometimes, insiders who have legitimate access to your industrial control system may exploit their position and wreak havoc on your industrial control system. Unfortunately, industrial control systems don’t have authentication or encryption methods to restrict user activity which means that anyone who has access to the system can access any device that they please. For this reason, it is essential to be highly selective when giving people access to your system.