Tips: Combating Cyber Attacks On Critical Infrastructure

Uniloc offers 10 tips to combat cyber attacks on critical infrastructure.

Begin with your environment

1. Do serious risk analysis. Determine what your exposure is to identified threats, their consequences, cost of mitigation and risk tolerance. Create a risk profile of critical assets, using it as a basis to develop policies and procedures prior to deploying technologies.

2. Implement policies and procedures. Before implementing any technical solution, create a comprehensive set of policies and procedures that serve as guidance to operators, security personnel, vendors, and anybody who could have access to or contact with SCADA systems.

3. Ignore training at your peril. Often overlooked, staff training is one of the most important components of a good security plan. Having the right technical policies, procedures and infrastructure is useless without people knowing how to properly use them. Training should encompass all aspects of your security plan.

4. Make security policies as important as safety policies. You should have zero tolerance within the organization for security breaches across any aspect of your SCADA environment. Such breaches can lead to loss of life, bodily injury or other consequences such as a detrimental impact on the environment or local community.

5. Integrate physical and cyber security. Physical access controls and surveillance technologies need to be integrated into an overall cyber security infrastructure. Just as SCADA has migrated to the use of IP protocols and COTs technologies, access and surveillance functions have moved in parallel. Integrating these functions creates a coordinated approach to protecting critical systems.

Know your enemy -- better yet, know your friends

6. Create a “trust” zone. Isolate cyber assets from all personnel except those specifically authorized. Focus on methodologies and technologies that authenticate and authorize only those who are trusted and prohibits all others by default.

7. Establish authentication for users and devices/systems. Device /system “fingerprinting” provides the first layer in creating a “cyber fortress” architecture. Such architecture creates a trust perimeter for both SCADA systems and access clients based on the actual physical fingerprint authentication of systems and devices.

8. Strictly enforce privileges. Ensure that only authenticated systems and clients are allowed to communicate across an encrypted communications channel. All applications should use Role Based Access Control (RBAC) at both the application and device level. Device fingerprinting technology allows RBAC to be implemented at a level that has not been available before -- the device itself.

9. Use dynamic password methodologies. Periodically changing passwords is a best-practice policy worth following. However, in some cases the policy can be restrictive and unenforceable. Using a dynamic challenge and response mechanism between hardware devices creates a hardware password that is enforced dynamically and only known between trusted devices.

10. Adopt physical device recognition. Many companies seek to mitigate the risk of problems caused by humans (traditionally the ‘weak link’ in security systems) by using multi-factor authentication, notably human biometrics such as retina scanning, smart cards, and fingerprinting. While all of these serve to identify an authorized user, most are not practical in an industrial environment. The best solution is to include a user’s computer as part of an identity and access control solution, validating identity through multi-factor identification.

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