An IT Perspective of Control Systems Security

Overview:

Enterprises with industrial operations typically utilize at least two types of computer networks – Information Technology (IT) - a network that supports enterprise information system functions like finance, HR, order entry, planning, email and document creation; and Operational Technology (OT) - a network that controls operations in real-time. This second type of network supports realtime or control system products, generally referred to as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, Distributed Control Systems (DCS), Energy Management Systems (EMS) or Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), depending on the industry.

There has been much discussion and debate around the convergence between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT). In an effort to provide better visibility and information flow between revenue generating OT assets and enterprise applications, these systems have often been interconnected, in many cases without properly securing the control systems from cyber attack first. If the IT and OT networks are interconnected, yet not properly secured, a breach to one network can easily transverse to the other, leaving the entire computing infrastructure at risk.

At first glance, interconnected IT and OT networks appear to share similar technologies and so a common approach to cyber-security might be indicated. However, upon deeper inspection, many important differences in IT and OT networks will be revealed. The unique characteristics of OT systems and networks preclude many traditional IT enterprise security products from operating safely without impairing operations, and when introduced, can provide significant disruption and downtime to these real-time, revenue generating assets.

This paper is intended to educate IT professionals on the unique requirements of operational technology and what is required to properly secure these networks from cyber attack, so that organizations can assure security, reliability and safety of information and revenue generating assets.

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Author: Andrew Ginter, ISP, CIPS, CISSP, Chief Security Officer, Industrial Defender, Inc.  | File Type: PDF

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