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Uncovering the Hidden Risks Of Operational Technology

By Tom Seest

What Is The Impact Of Operational Technology on Cybersecurity?

At BestCybersecurityNews, we help entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, young learners, and seniors learn more about cybersecurity.

OT cybersecurity refers to the software, hardware, practices, personnel, and services employed to safeguard operational technology infrastructure, people, and data. This field is rapidly growing in relevance with IT security best practices as well as Industry 4.0’s need for secure manufacturing processes.
OT devices, such as industrial control systems (ICSs), are becoming increasingly connected to IT networks and the Internet. This allows them to be managed and monitored remotely in order to prevent equipment breakdowns or system malfunctioning.

What Is The Impact Of Operational Technology on Cybersecurity?

What Is The Impact Of Operational Technology on Cybersecurity?

Are Industrial Control Systems Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks?

Industrial control systems (ICSs) are used to automate and monitor operations in industries such as electricity, petroleum production, water treatment, transportation, manufacturing, and communications. They use various technologies to manage different devices and processes and may require security measures for continued functionality.
Industrial Control Systems (ICSs) are indispensable to the smooth running of many industrial facilities. Not only do they help boost efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance safety in operations, but they can also be vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Industrial technology is becoming more intelligent and connected, creating an increased need for cybersecurity to protect critical infrastructure. Unfortunately, with the growing volume of data being generated and an array of threat actors attempting to breach OT networks, protecting ICS can prove challenging.
Maintaining the security of Industrial Control Systems (ICS) requires that plant managers and engineers who manage them prioritize cybersecurity. To do so, they should implement user authentication and access permissions to prevent unauthorized users from taking control of the system.
They must also implement remote access controls to monitor and limit the amount of data accessed through their network. This can be accomplished using data diodes, software configurations, as well as two-factor authentication.
These security measures can shield ICS systems from malware, viruses, and other malicious programs that aim to cause harm and destruction. Furthermore, they restrict unauthorized access to sensitive data by encrypting it and restricting the types of applications that can access it.
An Industrial Control System (ICS) consists of multiple devices connected via the network. These may include human-machine interfaces (HMI), programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and control servers.
The HMI is a software platform that enables people to communicate with hardware-controlling machinery. It can display status information, monitor setpoints, receive security alerts, alter parameters and algorithms, and analyze historical data.
It is typically connected to a control server, which houses supervisory control software for PLCs or distributed control systems (DCSs) and communicates with lower-level devices. Furthermore, it provides real-time status updates in the control room and sends commands to remote terminal units (RTUs) in the field.

Are Industrial Control Systems Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks?

Are Industrial Control Systems Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks?

Are SCADA Systems Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks?

SCADA systems are widely used in various industries, such as oil and gas, power distribution, water control, industrial processes, and manufacturing. They enable organizations to automate their monitoring and control of field equipment while decreasing costs and increasing efficiency.
Traditional SCADA systems rely on proprietary software to collect and process data. While this approach can be efficient, it also tends to be inefficient and costly. Modern SCADA solutions take advantage of open networking standards as well as modern software development platforms in order to support a wider range of devices while offering easier access to information.
The SCADA system collects and displays telemetry data from sensors in the field, which are connected to remote terminal units (RTUs) or programmable logic controllers (PLCs). The collected information is then sent to a supervisory system that executes it remotely using actuators.
Real-time and historical data are essential elements of the SCADA system, enabling operators to monitor performance against historical patterns and assess changes in critical equipment or operational conditions. Alarms and alerts can also be configured to notify operators of any significant modifications or events within the system.
HMIs (human-machine interfaces) are visual user interfaces for the supervisory system that displays plant information through mimic diagrams and alarm and event logging pages. These diagrams typically consist of line graphics, schematic symbols, and process elements representing the components within the plant.
These systems provide numerous advantages, such as ease of use and a centralized control center to monitor and manage equipment. Furthermore, they can help reduce energy costs by optimizing run times and expediting asset usage.
Modern SCADA systems are more scalable and interoperable than their legacy counterparts due to the incorporation of more widely supported hardware and software as well as cloud computing. Furthermore, these systems tend to be supported by third-party vendors more readily.
Modern SCADA systems not only increase scalability and interoperability but also boost security and compliance by providing automated alerts for potentially hazardous changes in system operation. They offer a single dashboard where stakeholders can access and aggregate data for reporting and compliance needs.

Are SCADA Systems Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks?

Are SCADA Systems Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks?

Are Your Distributed Control Systems Secure?

DCS systems are employed in a range of industries, such as oil refineries, chemical plants, mining operations, cement kilns, and ore processing facilities. These plants run continuously and rely on reliable control systems that monitor multiple process conditions across long distances.
Decentralized Control System (DCS) security is of utmost importance, as cyber-attacks on these systems could have disastrous results, such as the release of hazardous materials or production stoppage. Thus, effective cybersecurity measures need to be implemented in these systems – including regular software updates, secure configurations, backup/disaster recovery plans, employee training programs, network segmentation techniques, and intrusion detection systems.
A distributed control system (DCS) is a network of programmable logic controllers (PLCs), field devices, and human-machine interfaces (HMIs) that monitors, controls, and analyses industrial processes. These systems are connected through a common communication bus, which enables them to exchange data with each other as well as with other controllers and components within the plant.
DCS systems are typically designed and developed by DCS vendors, who then sell them to end users. These vendors typically supply hardware and software as well as engineering, installation, commissioning, project management services, and support contracts.
Many DCS systems come pre-configured with fault-tolerant components such as backup controllers, application servers, and data storage, making them more resilient in case any component fails. This makes them ideal for mission-critical operations.
Though this configuration comes at an extra cost, most end users recognize its benefit in terms of increased production capacity in case one or more controllers or components malfunction. With redundancy built-in, customers don’t have to worry about an entire production line being shut down if one component fails.
Many DCS systems are also equipped with redundant processors that perform self-checks to guarantee the availability of spare components in case a failure occurs. This redundancy helps safeguard against potential losses of valuable products and boosts plant resiliency.
NAMUR, a global consortium of process industry end users, has developed an open architecture model for DCS systems that isolates core control and automation functions from less crucial monitoring and optimization tasks. This way, less critical information can be stored separately and readily accessible to the user.

Are Your Distributed Control Systems Secure?

Are Your Distributed Control Systems Secure?

Can Human Machine Interfaces Enhance Cybersecurity?

HMI systems are visual user interfaces that let people interact with machines and computers. They’re essential components of industrial automation, enabling real-time machine control and data acquisition.
HMIs have become more commonplace in everyday life, particularly in the automotive and consumer product industries. You can use them to control your car’s engine, steering, lights, and air conditioning; they’re even found at gas station pumps and self-checkout kiosks.
When it comes to cybersecurity, HMIs are prime targets for hackers who could break in and access sensitive information like passwords and banking details. That’s why it is so essential to protect your HMI systems and safeguard your data.
Protecting your HMI requires using a reliable, high-quality monitor designed specifically for the machine it’s monitoring. It should be able to withstand harsh operating conditions, have an easy-to-clean surface, and contain antimicrobial materials.
A well-designed HMI will also be able to show clear and precise indicators that indicate whether the machine is running efficiently. This will enable you to detect issues sooner and make decisions with greater speed.
HMI systems come in two primary forms: standalone and embedded. The former runs on a modern PC or laptop and can be utilized for many different applications.
The latter is an industrial-grade computer designed for local touch panel support. It contains a microprocessor and can be programmed using engineering software.
Furthermore, many industrial HMIs come equipped with security features like password-protected user access and alarms/notifications to notify operators of changing or unexpected conditions. This enables factory owners to act swiftly and protect their operations’ productivity as well as safety.
HMIs can be a potential target for hackers, but they also serve as an invaluable asset in terms of company cybersecurity. HMIs provide detailed insights into machine behavior and enable users to respond in real time, which reduces labor costs and enhances operations.

Can Human Machine Interfaces Enhance Cybersecurity?

Can Human Machine Interfaces Enhance Cybersecurity?

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