Increasing technological advances in recent years have improved the productivity and overall performance of the ICS environment. The downside to automating and connecting networks within ICS is that it increases the risk of cyber-attacks. Although preventive measures can be taken, cyber-attacks cannot be avoided completely. In such a scenario, industries adopting modern digital technologies should not only take precautions but also should be prepared for immediate response, recovery, and business continuity when an incident occurs.
Responding to a Cyber Attack:
Cyber incidents are any unintentional or intentional events, including phishing email attempts, changes or modifications in the management process, unusual behavior from privileged accounts, and unauthorized network traffic by external hosts. Whereas, cyber events include observational behaviors, actions, or interactions within a system such as a user login into a system, connecting file share, or failed login due to the wrong password.
Industries should be ready to respond to any unwanted cyber events or incidents immediately after the incident or event is identified. The basic principles of cyber incident response consist of preparation, planning, incident management, recovery, remediation, post-incident analysis & evaluation, and learned lessons. ICS cyber security incident response documents should be prepared based on examining existing systems, their vulnerabilities, possibilities, impacts, and control/ recovery mechanisms. It can be divided into four sections, viz. planning, prevention, management, and incident analysis.
- The planning section should create a cyber-incident response team. The team should have various IT disciplines (enterprise architecture, infrastructure, IT cyber security team), Operation Technology (OT) teams (OT cyber security team, engineering partners, IT & OT system specialists), and managed service providers (third-party security operation centers and incident response partners). It must set up a detailed response plan with standard policies, personnel, and procedures.
- The incident prevention section is crucial while developing an incident response document as it reduces the severity and seriousness of the cyber-attack. It includes all essential measures and steps to stop further damage to the system and business.
- The incident management section consists of all actions that should be taken once the system experiences a cyber-attack. It guides the incident recovery team such as:
- Detecting potential and practical issues
- Containment of the event like malware installation on servers, the virus spread across the network, and so forth.
- Remediation such as removing the malware, installing anti-virus software
- Recovery from the event and restoration of the system to its total capacity
- The incident analysis deals with the post-incident study, such as discovering the reason, vulnerability, access path, and other necessary information regarding the incident. It also includes ways to prevent future attacks through cyber forensics and data safeguarding.
Business Continuity Planning:
Industries must have the confidence to continue their business operations and functions during crises such as natural disasters, emergencies, or cyber-attacks. A business continuity plan allows industries to respond and recover the business with minimum impact on finances, relationships with suppliers and other business partners, and customer service. The ICS cyber security documents should include a business continuity plan for all scenarios pertaining to cybersecurity.
- Developing a business continuity plan in ICS cyber security includes consideration for ransomware attacks, malware, and loss of access, malicious insiders, and data breaches.
- A business continuity plan differentiates critical and non-critical business operations and functions. Critical functions are prioritized for instant recovery and restoration post events as it impacts the ability of businesses to serve customers and stakeholders. The plan contains the timeframe for the restoration of business operations and the technical requirements for the restoration.
- The business continuity plan should be able to restore key business parameters with minimal business assets (such as systems, communications, networks, and power supplies).
- System isolation and operation, alternate communications such as telephones, internal networks and security portals, seamless network availability of key business parameters, and alternative energy facilities are part of ICS’s cybersecurity business continuity plan.
With evolving technologies, enterprises are mandated to adopt digital technologies to maintain their competitiveness. With the convergence of digital technologies and legacy industrial solutions, cybersecurity is a clear and present danger. There is nothing called 100 percent security from cyber attacks. While preventive steps play a significant role in minimizing the risk of cyber threats, industries should be ready with incident response and business continuity plans to reduce the impact of such incidents on business operations.
At 3WaySecure Consulting, we offer holistic, pragmatic, and sustainable cybersecurity services to protect industrial organizations from evolving cyber threats. We offer services in the areas of risk management, cybersecurity compliance, security testing, and cybersecurity consulting that are tailored to your specific infrastructure and business needs. If you need help regarding the cybersecurity challenges your business faces or advice on ICS/OT security, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or to get non-binding advice from our experts. 3WaySecure Consulting will be an essential partner to guide you along the journey of OT cybersecurity.