Top 7 Ways to Secure Industrial Control Systems

Securing industrial control systems (ICS) is a critical task and one that’s becoming more difficult as our world becomes increasingly digital. Many organizations fail to protect their ICS, which makes them vulnerable to cyberattacks.

These attacks result in numerous tangible and intangible losses to the organization. So, is there nothing organizations can do to protect their ICS? Well, there are many cybersecurity steps they can take to secure their ICS. In this blog, we have discussed seven ways to help secure ICS and protect them from cyberattacks.

1. Implement an Operational Technology (OT) Policy

Operational Technology (OT) systems are the backbone of many industrial facilities. While OT systems offer many advantages, they also present a unique security challenge. 

OT systems are often built on legacy hardware and software. These were not designed with security aspects. This makes them susceptible to attack. Moreover, OT systems are interconnected with other production systems. This means that a compromise of one system could lead to a cascading failure of the entire facility. 

Thus, it is essential for industrial organizations to put in place an OT security policy. Such a policy should address both physical and cyber security risks. They should be tailored to the needs of the organization.

If you want to know more about OT security and how you can use it to protect your organization’s ICS, you can refer some online guide for OT security. The guide provides comprehensive details about OT security, cybersecurity frameworks for OT, best OT security practices, and more.

2. Audit Your Current Industrial Control System (ICS)

One of the best things you can do to protect ICS is to perform an audit of your current system. This will help you to identify any vulnerable areas that could be exploited by an attacker. 

By taking the time to assess your system, you can make sure that it is as secure as possible.

For example, regular security audits can also help to uncover vulnerabilities, such as software patches or unprotected devices, that may have been otherwise missed. You can, thus, fix such security lapses easily with regular security audits and ensure that the ICS is as secure as possible.

After you have audited your ICS, you can develop a risk management plan and start fixing the vulnerabilities found in the auditing process.

3. Fix Vulnerabilities

When it comes to industrial control systems, security is of the utmost importance. These systems are responsible for managing critical infrastructure. A breach in these systems could have devastating consequences. That’s why it’s so important to identify and fix vulnerabilities in these systems before they can be exploited. 

Vulnerability fix includes modifying the hardware, software, and operation procedures to ensure they are protected against cyber attacks.

One of the ways to do this is through penetration testing. By simulating an attack, penetration testers can identify weaknesses in a system. They can then recommend steps for mitigating them.

Similarly, you can also update the software on your devices, install security patches, change application configuration, and more.

4. Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan

Developing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan is one of the most effective ways to secure ICS. No system can be protected fool-proof. In the event of a natural disaster or another major incident, a well-designed disaster recovery plan can help ensure that critical systems are quickly and safely restored. 

The key components of a successful disaster recovery plan include:

  • an inventory of critical equipment and systems, 
  • backup power and data storage, and 
  • detailed procedures for restoring operations. 

By taking the time to develop a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, organizations can minimize the disruptions caused by a major incident and ensure that vital operations can be resumed.

5. Train Employees

To protect the critical systems, you must train employees on cybersecurity best practices. This includes teaching them how to identify and respond to potential threats. It is also important to create policies and procedures for managing cybersecurity risks. 

Once you have a clear set of policies in place, you can then train your employees on how to follow them. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your company’s ICS is protected.

Some of the major advantages of training employees about cyber security best practices are:

  • It increases your cyber security measures
  • Training helps avoid blunders that can cause significant losses in the future
  • Training boosts the morale of the employees
  • Helps save time and money that is otherwise spent on recovering from cyber attacks
  • Enhances daily operations
  • Assures you peace of mind

6. Check and Update Software Regularly

Industrial control systems (ICS) are reliant on software to function properly. This software is often complex and contains a large number of lines of code. 

As a result, it can be difficult to identify and fix security vulnerabilities. To ensure that your ICS is secure, you should keep your system up to date with the latest security patches.

This includes both the operating system and any applications that are running on the system. By keeping your software up to date, you can help mitigate the risk of a security breach.

7. Implement Physical Security Measures

In addition to cybersecurity measures, it is also important to put in place physical security measures. By physically securing your industrial control systems, you can help deter and detect malicious activity. In the event that an attacker does gain physical access, these security measures can help limit the damage.

For example, you can restrict employee access to spaces where your critical assets and data are stored. You can implement measures like CCTV, RFID door locks, video surveillance cameras, and others.

You also need to keep testing continuously to ensure that the physical security devices, themselves, are not compromised by hackers. For example, cyber criminals can hack into video surveillance systems or other internet-connected security devices to access your assets.

Parting Thoughts

Securing industrial control systems is essential to protecting critical infrastructure and ensuring the safety of employees. By following the tips in this article, organizations can help secure their OT systems from cyber threats. Additionally, implementing physical security measures can help deter malicious activity. This can limit the damage that an attacker can cause.