How to Improve a Manufacturer’s Security Posture

Friday, April 27, 2018 @ 02:04 PM gHale

By Scot Wlodarczak
It is no secret Industry 4.0 offers great promise for manufacturers to optimize business operations.

The key, however, to any successful Industry 4.0 project lies in the factory data. Without data, extracted from a myriad of sources, delivered to the right application, at the right time, along with analysis of that data, little optimization can happen.

Industrial customers need seamless, secure access to this data to make better business decisions in their plants, which can only happen with a reliable plant to enterprise network and unique software solutions to make the job of managing large industrial data sets easier. And all this data movement needs to be done securely.

Security, Connectivity: A Tight Balancing Act
Manufacturers Still Behind Security Curve
Detecting Moves Leading to Attack
From Mobile Toys to Useful Tools

There’s no one singular solution for security for manufacturers, but rather a methodical, planned war preparation effort to protect critical IP, and production integrity from the enterprise all the way to the factory floor. 

Protecting critical manufacturing assets and intellectual property requires a holistic defense-in- depth security approach that uses multiple layers of defense (physical, procedural and electronic) to address different types of threats and implement proven, integrated security solutions that cover the carpeted space all the way to the concrete space.

Manufacturing Obstacles
Manufacturers face a few major obstacles when implementing effective security in industrial environments:
• Traditional security platforms lack visibility to identity of industrial assets like controllers, IO, drives etc. which makes it challenging to define security policy for these devices based on just network attributes like IP and MAC address.
• Fear of impacting production due to OT personnel having to depend on a centralized IT team to modify security policies to accommodate control system add, moves, and changes needed for day-to-day operations
• Implementing effective security for the most common use cases in manufacturing like remote access, simplified network segmentation, and traffic inspection within production cells to look for anomalies

To overcome these challenges, manufacturers need integration between OT tools used for process network monitoring and IT security platforms. This integration needs to provide IT security systems with visibility to industrial assets, while still keeping control in the hands of OT personnel.  Operations teams need the ability to express operational intent and automatically have the security solutions select the appropriate IT defined security policies without requiring network or security skills. Additionally, operations teams need tools they can easily use and understand to manage their networks. Those tools are not traditional IT tools.
Operations-friendly tools can give manufacturers the confidence they need to ensure factory networks are running at the performance levels needed for complex operations, and can give the visibility so traditional IT based security solutions can do their job. For example, if operational tools can identify that a certain device on the network is an HMI, and that HMI should only be talking to another specific device like a controller, then IT based security tools can monitor for anomalous behavior (like talking to other manufacturing lines, or machines), and then identify potential attack vectors. That operational visibility makes that possible.

Case in Point
In addition, putting some level of security control for the most common use cases in manufacturing in the hands of operations will dramatically improve their security posture. For example, if operations can easily allow a machine builder to access only a certain machine for troubleshooting, and do it while meeting IT policies – everyone benefits.  As another example, only the operations team knows which machines or plant areas should talk to other machines and plant areas, so putting easy to implement network segmentation in the hands of operations can also improve a manufacturer’s security posture.

Implement a holistic defense-in- depth security approach for your factory, and look for security solutions that are operations friendly, but still tied to enterprise grade security solutions which address some of the most common use cases in manufacturing. 

Only then can manufacturers reach a security position.
Scot Wlodarczak focuses on the manufacturing, oil & gas, and utilities space. He holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from SUNY–Buffalo, and an MBA from Colorado University.  He has experience in automation and process across a wide range of industries, as well as a predictive maintenance background with a Vibration Level II analysis certification.

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