As a second layer of defense, leading device manufacturers are looking at incorporating application control technology or “whitelisting” to prevent Windows-based devices from falling prey to run-of-the-mill viruses, and to mitigating the slow patching cycles that are part of the engineering change control (ECC) discipline which is so essential to managing control-system networks. Specifying application-control protections in devices should become common practice when upgrading equipment.
Preparation for cyber sabotage starts now
Large, private-sector, critical-infrastructures have yet to suffer a major cyber-sabotage incident, but given the trends in attack capabilities and given the lack of corresponding defensive capabilities deployed at a majority of critical infrastructure sites, such an incident is just a matter of time. IT-OT convergence and IT-style security make plants more vulnerable to certain classes of attacks, not less vulnerable. To maintain control of massive investments in industrial processes, and to ensure safe, uninterrupted operations in the face of modern cyber threats, industry leaders need to reevaluate their approach to cyber security in their integrated IT/OT systems, and take action.