Enhance your industrial cybersecurity to strengthen IT/OT . convergence

    Enhance your industrial cybersecurity to strengthen IT/OT . convergence

    More than ever, businesses are experiencing uncertainties, such as raw material shortages and supply chain disruptions, that force business owners to strengthen their operational resilience to stay competitive. For many industries, IT/OT convergence is the path to enhanced resilience. To ensure successful convergence, it is essential to develop a reliable and secure network infrastructure.

    According to IDC Technology Spotlight, the key to successful IT/OT convergence is a combination of network and cybersecurity principles and competencies. However, the merging of IT and OT also makes industrial networks more complex with an increasing number of field devices that need to be connected to the network. Therefore, it is important to strengthen the network capacity so that it can reliably and accurately handle the increasing amount of data. Also, security concerns should not be ignored.

    As the number of connected devices increases, so do the potential doors for intruders to gain access to the network. Implementing security principles should be the first step towards building a strong foundation for network infrastructure. The adoption of cybersecurity in the OT field can be challenging as the network and cybersecurity requirements for industrial applications are often very different. In this article, we focus on how you can enhance your industrial cybersecurity to build a strong network foundation for successful IT/OT convergence.

    Some things to consider

    OT operation has no tolerance for interruptions. Any system downtime can lead to huge losses. However, cybersecurity practices often encourage operators to continuously update their systems to enhance network protection against ever-changing cyber threats. This makes OT operators hesitant to implement cybersecurity measures, as each system update means they need to close their operational parts, reducing production efficiency.

    To balance the need for uninterrupted operation and improved cybersecurity measures, we recommend a two-stage approach to enhancing cybersecurity. Start by identifying and creating a layer of protection for operations essential to protection from online threats, followed by building secure networks that meet your operational needs. The following sections explain this in more detail.

    Take a defense-intensive approach

    The idea of ​​defense in depth is to provide multi-layered protection by implementing cybersecurity measures at every level. In the event of a breach, you have a better chance of detecting and mitigating the threat quickly, minimizing the damage it can cause.

    Building a strong defense begins with a thorough security assessment of the organization. Based on the assessment report, you can deploy multi-layered protection and implement cybersecurity measures for every aspect of an industrial organization including physical security, ICS networks, and device security. To help implement defense-in-depth concepts, refer to international security standards designed for industrial automation and control systems. The special IEC 62443 standard provides comprehensive guidelines for applying defense-intensive security to industrial operations to create a strong security foundation.

    When developing network infrastructure, especially for IT/OT converging network, network connections in OT site must be both secure and reliable. In the following paragraphs, we would like to highlight some areas to consider when enhancing the cybersecurity of OT network infrastructure.

    Choose secure devices to enhance your network advantage

    In the past, OT system security often relied on air gapping. In some cases, security is completely disregarded. When field devices are connected, network devices not only require industrial-grade reliability to avoid unexpected downtime, but also basic security functions to combat threats. online threats. Security functions such as user authentication mechanisms can help control user access to the network.

    Another important security feature, secure boot, helps ensure the integrity of network devices. Creating a security checklist to verify that network devices are protected is essential to maintaining a secure network environment. In addition, you can check if network devices are certified to internationally recognized security standards, such as IEC 62443. For example, compliance with this standard means These devices are developed based on IEC 62443-4-1 secure product development life cycle principles and are equipped with security features to protect network devices and enhance overall network security. .

    Protect your network with diverse security capabilities

    For optimal OT network protection, you need a layer of protection to ensure that when one layer of protection fails, the next one stays up. Dividing the OT network into multiple zones improves network security and prevents threats from affecting other systems. Functions such as VLANs and firewalls enhance security by dividing the network into isolated zones and by filtering malicious or unauthorized traffic. For more proactive measures, industrial intrusion detection/protection systems (IDS/IPS) identify and contain threats in a specific area if a network node is compromised. Adding access control is another good way to increase network security. By leveraging authentication protocols such as IEEE 802.1X, you can verify user access to an OT network. There are also other access control functions available to allow authorized users, identified through MAC addresses or other forms of identification, to access portions of the network through ports. specific based on their assigned role.

    Improved visibility of network status

    The more field devices are connected, the more difficult it becomes to efficiently configure, monitor, and maintain the network. Provides OT users with tools to quickly configure the security settings of multiple devices reducing network management complexity. In addition, you also need a way to easily monitor and maintain the security level of each network device for daily activities. When choosing equipment for industrial networks, keep an eye out for user-friendly OT network management tools that can save time managing security settings and monitoring the security status of network devices.

    Leverage network and OT security with purpose

    When building a secure network infrastructure, choosing the right equipment as the building block of the network is critical. Moxa’s EDS-4000 / G4000 series are IEC 62443-4-2 certified Ethernet switches designed to simultaneously help enhance industrial network security and meet diverse network needs. The design of the EDS-4000 / G4000 Series follows the strict security guidelines of IEC 62443 to create a versatile, security-enhanced network solution that has passed the most stringent cybersecurity assessments in the industry. various industries including critical infrastructure. In addition to enhancing network security, the EDS-4000/G4000 Series also provides powerful networking functions to help develop future-proof sustainable networks and accelerate IT/OT convergence with improved security .

    Visit the mini-website to learn more about the EDS-4000/G4000 industrial managed Ethernet switch.

    Information about the Authors

    Felipe Sabino Costa is LATAM’s Industrial Cybersecurity (IACS) specialist in Moxa.

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