Cyber Risk to Industrial Control Systems (ICS)
The systems we rely on most for some of the world’s most sensitive infrastructure, such as manufacturing, oil and gas facilities and water utilities, face cyber-security threats we do not fully understand. We should have an understanding of the threats we face, even if we do not have all the solutions for them yet. This lack of understanding can be answered through identifying two key issues: A lack of visibility into industrial networks and having organisations create hype around cyber threats.
In many cases the ICS that run our electric grid and water distribution systems do not have advanced security sensors. Visibility into the ICS networks have been difficult to obtain, and with good reason. Running antivirus software on systems in an ICS can potentially do more damage than good by marking files as malicious and deleting them. Despite everything, hacker activity has not been as easy to observe due to a lack of information obtained from these environments. In other words, there was no understanding of how the incident happened.
Media organisations grab attention from their audience with catchy headlines about cyber attacks against critical infrastructure. Some security companies use the media to promote their latest cyber security products when reporting on attacks and many security practitioners believe that the hype and awareness can serve as a wake-up call to the ICS community to take security seriously. Too much hype, however, can deter organisations who would otherwise take security seriously.
Ultimately, society needs more practitioners in the field of ICS cyber security and there needs to be a focus on training personnel instead of being overly focused on products. There are always going to be unseen hacks in the ICS community and we will no doubt begin to see a lot more of them coming to light.