Posts Tagged ‘cyber security’
Friday, June 19, 2015 @ 03:06 PM gHale
Cyber security is definitely on the minds of boards of directors, but the jury is out on just how far that goes.
In a snapshot of what boards and executives are thinking in the UK, Tripwire conducted a survey on the attitudes of executives as they relate to cyber security risk decision-making and communication between IT security professionals, executive teams and boards. Study respondents included 101 C-level executives and directors as well as 176 IT professionals from private and public U.K. organizations.
Despite the increasing number of successful attacks against UK organizations, the study found 54 percent of C-level executives at organizations within the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 index believe their board is cyber security literate and actively engaged in routine security.
IT professionals from the same organizations are less confident in their board’s cyber security knowledge, with 26 percent stating their boards only step in when there is a serious incident.
While the results of the Tripwire study point to executive confidence, they reveal the uncertainty of IT professionals. When asked if their board was “cyber literate,” almost one-third of IT professionals either answered “no” or “not sure.” However, 84 percent of C-level executives said “yes” to the same question.
“There’s a big difference between cyber security awareness and cyber security literacy,” said Dwayne Melancon, CTO for Tripwire. “If the vast majority of executives and boards were really literate about cyber security risks, then spear phishing wouldn’t work. I think these results are indicative of the growing awareness that the risks connected with cyber security are business critical, but it would appear the executives either don’t understand how much they have to learn about cyber security, or they don’t want to admit that they that they don’t fully understand the business impact of these risks.”
Other key findings include:
• 28 percent of IT professionals “don’t have visibility” into what the board is told about cyber security, and 47 percent were “not concerned” about their board’s knowledge of cyber security.
• In the event of a cyberattack, respondents would be most concerned about customer data (62 percent), damage to brand and reputation (50 percent), and financial damage or stock price (40 percent).
• 35 percent of respondents agreed that a security breach at their own organization had the biggest impact on their boards’ cyber security awareness, while other respondents felt that Heartbleed (19 percent) had a bigger impact than the Target or Sony breach and the Snowden leaks (17 percent and 8 percent, respectively)
“Most organizations are not struggling with communication tools,” Melancon said. “They are instead struggling with finding the right vocabulary and information to accurately portray cyber security risk to their boards, and they are trying to find the right balance of responsibility and oversight for this critical business risk.”
Monday, June 1, 2015 @ 09:06 AM gHale
What Leaders Need to Know and Ask to Ensure a Strong Security Profile
By Marc Ayala and Jeff Jensen
Among phrases sure to catch the attention of most all oil and gas executives: Enhanced asset utilization, production optimization, accelerated resource recovery and capital efficiency. Keep these moving in the right direction and greater profitability and market capitalization will surely grow. But one phrase that might escape their concern could endanger any initiative: Network security.
In fact, executives could be doing a grave disservice to their shareholders and their own fortunes if they choose to ignore this threat or to delegate their understanding of how it can undermine the safety of people, production and property at the core of a thriving oil and gas enterprise. What they need is the knowledge to evaluate the nature of this risk and to ask informed questions about their companies’ defenses against it.
Oil and gas industry executives must stay informed of cyber security threats for two reasons: The energy sector is by far hackers’ top target and a cyber attack on their own facilities can potentially have serious impacts on operations and profitability as well as grave consequences for the life safety of personnel and nearby communities.
How important is network security? Consider this: Of the top 16 security targets designated as critical by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), cyber attacks on the energy sector in 2013 were 59 percent of 256 total attacks deemed serious enough for its Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) to investigate. That was three times the number of attacks on critical manufacturing facilities, the runner-up, and 30 times the number of attacks on government facilities.
And how frequent are those attacks? With hackers automating their network assaults, one can occur every few minutes until a penetration occurs. During one session on network security led by a Siemens expert, he prefaced his presentation by opening a new, working web server connected to the Internet with its Modbus TCP/IP port 502 exposed. At the end of his remarks, he checked the web server’s security monitoring software and found 35 attacks had occurred from all over the world – all in just one hour.
OT vs. IT Security
IT professionals have plenty to worry about in defending against cyber attacks on their companies’ enterprise networks. These are what connect people with each other, via email, web collaboration tools and even voice communications, and also with information, via various company databases, customer relationship management (CRM) tools and so forth. After all, malware, data theft and corrupted data or devices can disrupt user productivity and even a company’s transactional capabilities.
But in that environment, no one ever suffers an injury or worse.
This is one of the biggest differences between enterprise network security and industrial network security. If a hacker, whether a deliberate saboteur or a teenage malcontent, penetrates an industrial network and disrupts critical processes or controls, especially automated life safety protections, someone could get seriously or even mortally hurt. That’s why DHS set up ICS-CERT to reduce risks associated with control systems-related incidents and mitigation measures.
Industrial Network Realities
Aside from the critical life-safety security distinction of industrial networks, they differ from non-industrial enterprise networks. First, industrial control systems (ICSs), which include supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, are by definition connected to networks. These ICS and SCADA networks are often linked to enterprise networks, which have external-facing vulnerabilities that can open doors for hackers. Wireless SCADA systems, often operating from remote locations using public IP addresses, are also vulnerable to attack, accessible via their wireless media, including cellular, 900MHz radio, satellite and microwave.
Industrial networks must often operate 24×7, in real or near-real time and require 99.9 percent uptime or better (99.99 or 99.999 percent in the case of public communication networks). In contrast, enterprise IT networks typically must operate on a best-effort basis (so a break in one part of the network forces routers to send data packets down alternate paths) and be available during “business hours.” Point is, the disruption risks of a security breach in an ICS or SCADA network can be much greater than for an enterprise IT network.
In the past 20 years, industrial automation and control systems have become more vulnerable to cyber security intrusions, primary among them are:
• The increasing mobility of workers, which has created greater demands for 24×7 remote network access for engineering, operations and technical support personnel, sometimes leading to less secure network connections and security practices.
• Growing use and integration of commercial and open source technologies, such as Windows and Linux operating systems, SQL databases and Ethernet protocols, all of which a hacker can exploit by opening back doors for the same malware that can infect enterprise IT systems.
• Proliferation of “how-to” documentation and actual code on the Internet, which has lowered the bar for the technical competencies needed to hack industrial control systems.
• Integration of a company’s legacy plant systems with its enterprise systems by interconnecting industrial and corporate networks – and external third parties via the public Internet. Not only does external connectivity create vulnerabilities, but the integration also introduces ambiguity within companies as to which group – enterprise IT or process engineering – owns responsibility for overall cyber security.
Another set of security issues with industrial networks involves their evolution from early patchworks of electrical relays or antiquated microprocessor controllers and manually monitored indicator lights, trips and breakers. While those legacy systems might work well enough to operate relatively simple processes even today, they likely lack proper security controls. Nonetheless, they most likely end up connected to modern distributed control systems (DCSs) that feature the latest programmable logic controllers (PLCs), which are micro-computers using Windows or Linux which connect over industrial Ethernet to human-machine interfaces (HMIs). In turn, these HMIs are often accessible anywhere in the world via PCs or touchscreen tablets and smartphones – by legitimate DCS operators or by hackers exploiting the vulnerabilities in the connections between old and new systems.
With modern ICS, SCADA and DCS networks, infiltrations can occur from any of three sources:
1. Top-down from the corporate and data zones (Zones 4, 3 and 2)
2. Bottom-up from the field and safety/control zones (Zones 0 and 1); and
3. “Sideways” from external sources, either via the Internet, remote operations and facilities or remote
Lower Security Risks
Companies can find plenty of information to help guide their efforts to harden and secure their industrial control systems. Three internationally recognized ICS security standards, which can provide excellent starting points and guidance, are IEC 62443 / ISA99, NIST 800-82, and NERC-CIP.
These standards boil down to three steps: A current state assessment; hardening the environment, physical and logical; and ongoing vigilance.
They incorporate what’s known in security as the “defense-in-depth” model. This involves dividing a security deployment strategy into layers, with the most critical systems protected by multiple levels of security.
Every security risk mitigation effort for an industrial control system must start by evaluating the current state of its security by conducting an assessment. Here are some questions to consider:
Does a network’s borders correspond to its physical borders? They should. For example, if the user locked down the SCADA server and its software in an effort to prevent tampering with its configurations and data, is the server itself securely located to prevent unauthorized access to its network ports, removable media drives, keyboard and mouse?
Where are the network’s security zones and conduits? An industrial control system should have distinct functional zones that separate the field device control layer from the SCADA remote monitoring layer. In turn, these should end up separated from the DCS control layer – and more importantly, separated from any layer of safety-critical systems. Finally, the DCS and safety-critical system layers must end up separated from the enterprise IT layer. All those layers should communicate with each other only via carefully prescribed and secure conduit connections. And all those layers need to be separate from all external connections, each of which should also end up carefully prescribed and secured.
What and where is each connection within the industrial control network? This step helps identify what’s known as the network attack interface. Look for internal local area network (LAN) connections and wide area network (WAN) connections; remote connections with distant sensors and operating facilities; internal wireless connections, including Internet connections; modem or dial-up connections (yes, they do still exist); and external connections to third-parties, such as business partners, vendors and regulatory agencies. All connections should end up catalogued in detail and their current security measures noted, especially their firewall protection and update status.
What devices and software applications have connections, and what are their functions? This step helps identify what’s known as the software attack interface. Similar to the step above, all hardware devices – HMIs, PCs, servers, wireless access points, phones, even printers and video surveillance cameras – must end up catalogued along with all their operating system versions, software applications and the port numbers that each device uses to communicate. All current security measures should end up noted as well as their status regarding updates and patches.
Who is in charge of securing the industrial control network? For quite a few companies this might not be clear – yet it’s critically important. ICS, SCADA, DCS and safety systems typically evolved with industrial and process engineering teams in charge. During that time frame, enterprise IT teams had their hands full with rationalizing the corporate IT landscape. That left a large gray area of unclear responsibilities and sometimes adversarial relationships between the two groups. It can be a classic human story of in-fighting going on while the barbarians are tearing down the city gates. Executives – especially CEOs, CIOs and CISOs (chief information security officers) – need to recognize this phenomenon and put one qualified company person or team in charge of securing the industrial control system, in concert with enterprise IT and plant or production management. This person or individuals should have clear cyber security roles, responsibilities and authority to formulate and enforce well-defined security governance policies for managers, system administrators and end-users.
How vulnerable are the network and software attack fabrics? After identifying all the elements subject to cyber attack, the next step is to conduct penetration testing, to determine each one’s vulnerability. This can be a time-consuming, tedious task for large systems comprising hundreds of connections and components or more, but it’s necessary to fully assess the strengths and weaknesses of ICS, SCADA, DCS and safety networks, which are only as strong as their weakest component.
Due to the nature of these critical, real-time production systems, it’s vitally important that any penetration testing occur in a lab environment and not on the production system itself. With extreme care, caution and coordination, production, operations and process safety management will need to conduct a risk analysis and develop contingency plans – with executive management sign-off – before doing any penetrating testing or modification of a live control system. Failure to do so could have grave consequences not only for the personnel and property of a plant or production site, but also for the people and property in surrounding communities. This is why any third-parties selected to help with ISC, SCADA, DCS and safety system security testing or modification must be exceptionally well qualified and experienced in the engineering and workings of your system(s).
Hardening the Environment
A thorough assessment will reveal all existing and potential security holes and everything that needs strengthening. In effect, the list of all a system’s security shortcomings will become its punch list for action. Depending on how long that list is, levels of prioritization can come into play to close the worst vulnerabilities as soon as possible.
Assigning Security Access Levels (SALs) to each element can help with prioritization. Next steps in this stage would include:
Remove, disable or disconnect anything not needed. An assessment will probably uncover elements never needed but ended up installed as part of bigger installation or became unnecessary over time. If you find any unnecessary connections, disconnect them. If any unnecessary software applications or default network services end up discovered, remove or disable them.
Establish a security strategy based on a layered “defense-in-depth” model. After eliminating unnecessary connections, and software, what’s left needs protection. Ensure physical and logical security coincide, with strict access privileges for all users, providing access only to what they need to do their jobs. Logs should be kept for all accesses and video surveillance placed on the locked-down physical confines of network elements – HMIs, servers, routers and switches. All firewalls should be up-to-date. Full security features should be turned on in all hardware devices, operating systems, software and hardware devices.
Document, document, document. The catalog of a system’s network and software attack surfaces should be the start of a full documentation of its security. This should include “as-built” system architecture diagrams showing all elements, their locations, their functions, their governance and their connections with other elements.
Add to that written policies and procedures for: establishing, updating and terminating user accounts; upgrade and patch management policies, procedures and assigned responsibilities for all firewalls, devices and software applications; and scope, frequency and procedures for conducting security audits and penetration testing. All this documentation itself should have version and access controls, plus always be backed up to an offsite location, so it’s available by alternative means if the system goes down due to a cyber attack or some unrelated disaster.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. During the hardening stage, many employees and other stakeholders will become aware of what’s going on, so it’s important to communicate with them the reasons for doing so, let them know who is in charge of the effort, advise them of any changes in their day-to-day work as a result, and set proper expectations for their roles in supporting the effort.
After hardening a company’s ICS, SCADA, DCS and safety networks, the heightened protection will begin degrading over time without ongoing efforts to maintain security levels. To watch for and respond to apparent and actual attacks, and to conduct periodic security audits and tests, a user should:
Establish response teams to identify and evaluate potential attack scenarios. The designated person or team in charge of industrial network security should identify potential attack scenarios and then convene the core stakeholders into a rapid response team. Each team member needs to imagine, describe and document the potential impact on his or her function should a security attack succeed, as well as what mitigation measures to take. Roles and responsibilities need to be assigned and contact information shared in a central place. The team should meet at least annually to reacquaint themselves with each other and with their risk and mitigation scenarios. It’s a good idea to conduct exercises that assume the worst-case scenario has occurred, which can provide the team with practice.
Conduct periodic audits and penetration testing. The frequency of audits and penetration testing depends on how critical an industrial control system is to a company’s functioning or the life-safety of personnel and surrounding communities. Obviously a nuclear plant would require much more frequent audits and systems testing than a dairy products plant. Any industrial facility, however, should conduct an audit and systems testing no less frequently than once a year. Notably, audits often overlook evaluating the currency and relevancy of existing documentation. That’s why it’s important to review and update documentation. If production lines are frequently reconfigured, with consequent changes made to their control systems, then mini-audits should then end up conducted to avoid introducing any unintended system vulnerabilities.
The ultimate goal of securing industrial control systems and networks against cyber attacks is to ensure their reliable and safe operation.
Oil and gas industry executives can make tremendous progress in reaching this goal by initiating a thorough systems assessment and needed hardening, then putting in place a formal watchdog process governed by designated, well-qualified people with the knowledge and authority to create and enforce policies and procedures.
Doing so will cost money and time, but it will be one of the most important investments that oil and gas operators can make in the safety and well-being of their people, production and property.
Marc Ayala is the former senior technical advisor at system integrator, Cimation and Jeff Jensen is an application engineer at Siemens Industry, Inc.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 @ 05:02 PM gHale
By Gregory Hale
Cyber security permeates every part of your company and it is a must that it is on everybody’s agenda.
That was the message that came from Gregory Touhill, Air Force Brig Gen (ret), CISSP and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Operations and Programs at the Department of Homeland Security during his keynote address at the ARC Industry Forum 2015 in Orlando, FL, Tuesday.
As he started off his keynote with a “Happy Patch Tuesday morning,” Touhill continued by saying the industry is just facing more attacks then every before and it doesn’t look like it will let up any time soon.
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“Cyber security is misunderstood by many folks,” he said. “People think it is a technology issue. I say it is a risk management issue for companies and individuals. Risk management is something we all need to look at as we conduct business on a daily basis.”
He likened his job to being the captain of the neighborhood cyber watch for the entire country.
Some of the duties of the neighborhood watch include:
• Share information about bad actors
• Do things about attribution. We anonymize data
“There is a myth out there that we are all knowing and all seeing. That is a myth. We are as transparent as we can be. We are the champion of declassification. We are dedicated to maintain privacy, civil rights and civil liberties.
Touhill said the threat environment continues to grow and there are three types of attackers out there:
• Nation state actors who are very capable adversaries
• People trying to get a competitive advantage and steal your IP to gain as much information as possible
• Hacktivists, who are people that don’t agree with your company’s activities
And then the final threat environment Touhill said was on his personal list but not the official DHS stance and that is people being “just plain stupid. Your IT staff is not stupid, but sometimes they do stupid things. They miss things.”
Security, he said, remains more than just a technology issue; it is also a people and physical issue.
“If we just look at technology security will fail. We also have to look at the physical side.” He mentioned the substation in California that ended up attacked a year or so ago by bad guys who shot out the facility and then took off.
Looking at the cyber security environment, Touhill knows the origin of control systems and why they are vulnerable to attack.
“As we look at industrial control systems, they are not designed with security in mind,” he said. “They are old and security is bolted on. Sometimes we find owners and operators have decided to take the risk and not pay for security. As we go out into the sector, we have to bake in security.”
Touhill said there are five key best practices to think about when it comes to an attack:
• ID what you have
• Protect it
• Detect it
• Be able to recover
“I contend there are very few companies doing that,” he said. “They are not doing asset valuation. It is important to protect appropriately. Identify what you have and make sure you protect the proper things in the most appropriate way.”
Vigilance remains a key aspect because as he said, the average time from penetration to detection is 240 days.
“That is unacceptable,” Touhill said. “I want to know when they are coming through the gate and have a response plan in place.”
“Cyber security permeates every part of your company,” he said. “It has to be a part of everybody’s agenda. Each one of us in this room has a responsibility to cyber security. We all have a stake in cyber security.”
Wednesday, June 25, 2014 @ 05:06 PM gHale
By Gregory Hale
Cyber security is really all about risk management, but before you make any kinds of decisions on risk levels you have to know what you have that is at risk. That is just where a risk assessment comes into play.
“There is a relationship between process safety and security,” said John Cusimano, director of ICS cybersecurity solutions at aeSolutions during his talk entitled “Measure Twice, Cut Once! The Value of Conducting Cyber Risk Assessments” Wednesday at the 2014 Siemens Automation Summit in Orlando, FL. “In process safety you have a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) mandated by OSHA and focused on the process and the equipment in the process. You have to establish a risk assessment and security is no different. In process safety we talk about layers of protection. In normal conditions the system keeps everything in control. If things don’t work the safety instrumented system kicks in and puts the plant in safe state.”
When a user is looking at cyber security, Chris Da Costa, global operations security manager for Air Products and Chemicals Inc. said here are just some of the questions users should ask themselves:
• Is the plant ICS system secure from a cyber perspective?
• If there is an architecture change, will it change the security?
• What kind of firewall do you use?
• Do you have the right firewall rules?
• Has the plant ICS been compromised?
• Do you have the right layers of protection?
• How good is good enough?
“How do you go about answering those questions? To answer those questions you have to do a risk assessment,” Da Costa said. “What threats are in your system?” Are safeguards in place to have risks at an acceptable level?”
A risk assessment, though, is only the beginning. “It is only a portion of the security philosophy. You need to address the people aspect, but the strategy part includes a risk assessment,” Da Costa said.
As a part of the discussion, Cusimano went through a basic assessment and some of the approaches to what he called a cyber PHA.
Some of the deliverables that come out of a risk assessment include:
• ICS security architecture drawings
• Requirement specification
• Vulnerability assessment
• Peer comparison
• Zone and conduit model
Just remember, as Da Costa said, “a risk assessment is so critical in where you want to go.”
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 @ 07:06 PM gHale
By Gregory Hale
There are heavy challenges facing automation professionals in the years to come and cyber security ranks up there at the top.
“There are issues like skills availability, working in remote locations and cyber security,” said Vimal Kapur, the brand new president of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) during his keynote address Tuesday at the 2014 Honeywell Users Group in San Antonio, TX. “We can’t ignore (cyber security). It is an undesired event and we have to do something about it.”
Kapur, just named president of HPS in May, talked about trends and outlooks he sees in the industry. While newly named as president, Kapur has been with Honeywell for 25 years so he is very aware of industry nuances and trends.
One of the areas he wants to focus on collaborating to ensure global coverage as the world markets emerge from long standing recessions.
“China and the Americas continue to lead in capital spending, but Europe, Middle East and Asia (EMEA) and Asia Pacific are recovering,” he said.
Closer to home in North America, Kapur said natural gas is continuing its growth curve.
“The Americas oil and gas industries continue to dominate capital spending in the region, especially as they migrate to new natural gas sources,” said Kapur. “These changes have been having a profound impact for the past two or three years, and this trend is going to continue for several more years.”
He also pointed out how Honeywell will be able to leverage its capabilities in upstream oil and gas, midstream and downstream with new SCADA, RTU, DCS, safety, advanced and field instrumentation solutions.
Also understanding and designing the systems properly from the beginning is more vital now than it ever has been.
“Large capital expenditure projects are growing more complex, expensive and time-consuming. So instead of us coming in and adding automation and control at the end of a project before start-up, it’s becoming critical for us to execute automation and get it out of the critical path of these projects,” Kapur said.
Planning the project is one thing, but the next step is applying operational integrity and operational excellence.
“Being able to accomplish operational integrity means operating safely. Operational excellence means running a process more efficiently,” he said. “That all includes making people and assets safer, and running processes more reliably.”
One other trend Kapur discussed was cloud computing.
“Cloud computing in automation has huge potential,” Kapur said. “That is something that is happening now; not something that will happen in the future.”
Another trend is universality, Kapur said. By that he said there would be one universal device that handles multiple capabilities. A case in point is a smartphone that can handle computing, video, phone and general communications capabilities.
In the past one device could handle one function, but why not have one device that handles multiple functions.
He then translated that to the Honeywell environment where, in one case, he pointed to Universal IO which transformed from a single device to one that can handle multiple tasks.
Universal I/O and cloud computing capabilities form the core of the company’s Lean Execution of Automation Projects (LEAP) program for taking automation out of the critical path on customers’ projects.
The goal behind LEAP is to cut engineering time
- No repeat engineering
- Drives efficiency
- Lean execution
- Standardized processes and tools
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 @ 10:03 AM gHale
Lockheed Martin will acquire manufacturing automation security provider, Industrial Defender.
“Industrial Defender’s expertise in cyber security for critical infrastructure is a natural extension of our commercial cyber security business,” said Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin chairman, president and chief executive. “Their experience in addressing cyber threats to industrial control systems complements our information technology cyber security expertise and strengthens the value we deliver to our customers.”
Foxborough, MA-based Industrial Defender is a privately held company with more than 130 employees in three facilities. The company’s solutions focus on protecting and managing critical infrastructure by reducing cyber risks, easing regulatory compliance and enhancing the efficiency of customers’ control environments.
“Lockheed Martin is a leader in cyber technology and IT security,” said Industrial Defender Chief Executive Brian M. Ahern. “We share a common perspective on the importance of protecting global critical infrastructure from an increasingly hostile threat landscape. The combined capabilities of Industrial Defender and Lockheed Martin will enable us to offer a comprehensive suite of technology and services designed to face modern day threats and business challenges to both enterprise information and operational technologies.”
Industrial Defender focuses on areas such as electric power grids, chemical facilities, and oil and gas pipelines. The company has over 400 companies in its stable of customers.
Bethesda, MD-based Lockheed Martin’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.
While terms of the deal were not immediately available, the deal should close within 30 days.