Critical Infrastructure Cyber Security Solutions
Intelligence Driven Cyber Security Operations
What is Critical Infrastructure Cyber Security?
Critical infrastructure encompasses both physical and digital systems vital for a country’s economic stability and public well-being. Safeguarding these systems from cyber threats is a fundamental component of cybersecurity. These sectors involve assets managed by government bodies and private entities, often intertwining in sectors like Energy and Financial Services, where a disruption on one side can impact the other, ultimately affecting the nation’s life safety and economic security.
Notably, these critical infrastructure systems encompass a blend of government-owned and privately owned assets. Many of these sectors rely on “cyber-physical systems,” which go beyond traditional IT systems and encompass OT/IoT/ICS/IIoT and other technologies that control both data and physical processes. Gartner defines “cyber-physical systems” as “engineered systems orchestrating sensing, computation, control, networking, and analytics to interact with the physical world, including humans.” When secured effectively, these systems enable safe, real-time, reliable, resilient, and adaptable performance. Using this broader perspective, Gartner encourages security and risk leaders to expand their security programs to cover the full spectrum of cyber-physical risk.
CertCube Labs specializes in enhancing the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure. Our focus is on developing programs, protocols, and technology solutions dedicated to safeguarding a nation’s critical infrastructure. This includes protecting against cybercriminals who frequently target national infrastructure such as utilities, transportation systems, financial sectors, food and agriculture systems, energy companies, and other essential service providers, all of which are crucial for a government and its citizens.
The landscape of critical infrastructure, such as power generation and distribution, is undergoing significant transformation, becoming increasingly complex and interconnected through networks of connected devices. In the past, these critical systems operated in isolation, but now they span geographic regions and intersect various sectors, creating a web of interdependencies.
This heightened level of interconnectedness has raised concerns about the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to cyberattacks and technical failures. Recent events have amplified these fears. In 2015, the world witnessed the first power outage caused by a malicious cyberattack in Ukraine, where BlackEnergy malware disrupted three utility companies, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity. This incident underscored the potential devastating consequences of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure.
Various industry sectors are susceptible to cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, not limited to the energy sector. Transport, public services, telecommunications, and critical manufacturing industries are also at risk. These threats have escalated in recent years, with a noticeable increase in cyber investigations and attacks against critical manufacturing in the United States.
Industrial control systems (ICS), including SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), and Distributed Control Systems, have become integral to many sectors. However, these systems are vulnerable to cyber threats, as demonstrated by the Stuxnet virus, which disrupted Iran’s nuclear program by targeting PLCs. Another example involved a cyberattack on a German steel mill that resulted in significant damage due to the forced shutdown of a blast furnace.
Interestingly, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure tend to focus on control systems rather than data theft, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding operational technology (OT). Operational technology encompasses the physical connected devices that support industrial processes, and its vulnerability and lack of protection are considered the most significant cybersecurity challenges today.
Despite the growing emphasis on cybersecurity in IT systems, the security of industrial control systems and connected devices has lagged behind. Many industrial devices still rely on outdated serial communication technology, which presents security vulnerabilities. While the IT sector has seen substantial growth in cybersecurity products and services, industrial control systems have not received the same level of attention.
With the increasing adoption of connected devices, driven by the Internet of Things (IoT), the convergence of the digital and physical worlds is accelerating. Everyday devices, homes, and cars are becoming connected, creating a potential cybersecurity storm. The trend towards virtual networks, including cloud computing, further complicates the security landscape.
Ensuring confidence in the security of critical infrastructure and IoT systems is crucial for reaping the benefits of these technologies. Public confidence in systems security is essential, whether it’s for SCADA systems in aviation or the IT platforms supporting mobile banking. Recent incidents, such as cyberattacks on airlines, have eroded consumer confidence.
CertCube Labs recognizes the importance of deterring cybercriminals and protecting operational technology. It’s crucial to increase the cost of launching successful cyberattacks, making it less attractive for hackers. While complete prevention of all attacks may be impossible, technology can raise the cost of successful attacks, dissuading hackers from targeting critical infrastructure and encouraging insurers to offer higher coverage limits. This approach aims to bolster cybersecurity and maintain public confidence in the digital age.
CYBERSECURITY IN MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
Critical infrastructure encompasses both physical and digital systems that play a vital role in a nation’s economy and public health and safety. Protecting these systems from cyber-related attacks is a priority. These sectors often feature a mix of government-managed and privately owned assets, and their digital systems may include “cyber-physical systems,” which control both data and physical processes.
We have 15 sectors as critical infrastructure due to their significance to the country’s physical, economic, or public health security. These sectors are interconnected, and an attack on one can have ripple effects across others. This complexity underscores the importance of cybersecurity in these sectors.
Regulatory requirements for critical infrastructure cybersecurity are increasing, driven by government actions like the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022. These regulations mandate reporting specific cyber incidents and implementing security measures. Public-private partnerships and government agencies like the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) offer support to enhance cybersecurity efforts.
In this unique landscape, asset operators must be vigilant and recognize their role in national security. They face a higher risk of cyberattacks due to the potential impact on the economy and public safety. Threat intelligence from government entities can provide valuable insights, and interdependencies between public and private systems must be considered.
Critical infrastructure operators should adopt IT-level security rigor for their cyber-physical systems, demanding the same level of security as in IT environments. While these systems have unique characteristics, endpoint security is possible and proactive in defending these systems.
Converging IT and cyber-physical security efforts is crucial for alignment and efficiency. Effective communication and trust-building between IT and operational teams are essential to overcome historical barriers.
Finally, organizations should adopt a “Think Global, Act Local” approach. Centralizing risk and threat data for analysis at the enterprise level can reduce labor and resource costs. However, when taking remedial actions, those with knowledge of control systems must be involved to ensure the proper operation of critical processes.