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IT and OT networks have converged, new technologies have been deployed, and resources remain constrained. Now more than ever, organizations need a strong security strategy to protect and defend their networks against adversaries.
The first step in implementing a new security strategy is improving network visibility. You can’t secure what you can’t see!
In this blog and the series that follows, we’ll discuss methods and techniques for improving the overall visibility fabric.
Network security used to be fairly simple and straightforward. IT and OT networks were completely separate. IT was responsible for the IT network and OT/ICS teams were responsible for their environments.
Originally, everything was air gapped, meaning there was no connection between the IT environment and the OT environment. The physical separation between the networks acted as an effective barrier to keep everyone and everything out.
As IT started implementing digital transformation, the safeguard provided by the air gap started to dissolve. Now, air gaps are nearly a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, many OT teams don’t realize that they aren’t air gapped anymore. This means they are working with a false sense of security.
Increased integration and information sharing between the two environments has created a number of problems. The greatest challenge is incomplete network visibility.
Data is flowing continuously between different devices and systems. Without a strong foundation of visibility, it can be very difficult to get a clear and complete picture of where data is coming from and going to.
Organizations are constantly increasing the number of edge computing and IoT devices. Seemingly no industry is exempt from this evolution.
Oil and Gas companies are using IoT sensors to remotely monitor worker safety on offshore rigs, construction sites are monitoring crane loads, and railroad companies are relaying information on engine performance back to corporate headquarters.
What all of these devices have in common is that they rely on internet connectivity to transmit data. This connectivity creates multiple security loopholes and potential attack points that can endanger IT infrastructure.
While cloud computing isn’t a new idea, virtual programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are a more recent innovation.
Cloud-based data creates additional security concerns. Proper policies and protections for data storage, migration, and access have become even more important than in a traditional network.
Ensuring proper visibility standards in the cloud and in virtual PLCs is a complex, but critical process. Organizations must invest additional time and resources into managing the inherent risk associated with this innovation.
#4 - Remote Access & Remote Operations
The remote work revolution fueled by COVID has had a significant and permanent impact on organizational structure and access policies.
While most companies aren’t staying 100% remote, there is still a huge increase in the number of devices that are now remotely connected to networks. With all of that information being remotely accessible, the air gap is gone because the data has to come back to a consolidation point.
These are just a few of the key factors driving the need for increased visibility within ICS/OT environments. The future is bright for companies that get it right. There are infinite opportunities for businesses to get better, faster, and stronger through digital transformation.
Organizations that successfully implement this type of increased, secure connectivity will excel, grow, and gain a competitive advantage.
In 2021, there was a significant increase in threat groups and ransomware attacks on ICS/OT networks. Companies are under increasing pressure to improve their OT network visibility and minimize the effects of these threats, both new and old.
At Garland Technology, we’re seeing a big demand from customers deploying security solutions such as Dragos. Our network TAPs and packet brokers feed data to the tools, providing the network visibility necessary to enable effective asset and threat detection, as well as incident response.
Neil is a Systems Engineer at Garland Technology focusing on customer challenges with network visibility such as resilience, interoperability, and integration into data center topology. Wilkins is a seasoned network professional with 30 years of experience globally within the computing industry, in product marketing and technical support, for both the commercial and public sectors