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Arctic Stream: Defense Solutions Against Cyber Attacks on Industrial Networks

Security challenges in enterprise networks (administrative and office) have been a well-known topic for many years. Although new attacks emerge weekly, often exploiting vulnerabilities in widely used operating systems and applications, security solutions and platforms are generally well-known and used with varying degrees of adoption by companies of all sizes.

However, when it comes to industrial networks, the landscape is somewhat different. These networks were built years ago when there was no connection between them and enterprise networks. Therefore, there were no significant attack vectors that led to a specific need for cybersecurity protection.

In recent years, concepts such as IoT (Internet of Things) and Industry 4.0 have highlighted the need to connect operational networks to administrative networks and, consequently, to the Internet, opening up new avenues for attackers.

About industrial networks and attackers' interest

Known by various terms, such as industrial networks, operational networks, process networks, or SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), these networks belong to companies in industries such as food, manufacturing, utilities (energy, gas), petroleum, materials processing, and many more. They operate 24/7, and if an industrial control equipment (ICS) malfunctions, it can lead to substantial financial losses and, in some cases, even endanger human lives (power outages, lack of heat or water, etc.).

With the implementation of Industry 4.0-specific automation and data analytics or various IoT sensors by connecting these networks to the outside, the attack surface exposed to potential cyberattacks has expanded. This is evidenced by the discovery of a significantly higher number of vulnerabilities in recent times. In 2022, there was a 200% increase in vulnerabilities analyzed specifically in the industrial environment, as shown in the "Dragos 2022 ICS/OT Cybersecurity Year In Review" report.

In the current geopolitical context, attackers' interest goes beyond financial extortion (common in ransomware attacks, which increased by 87% in the past year, according to the same report cited earlier). A recent example was revealed through the "Vulcan Files," a series of documents that disclose methods of attacking critical infrastructure and transportation.

How can we defend ourselves?

Protection against cyberattacks in the industrial environment must be tailored to the specific equipment in these networks. Unlike the laptops and PCs we use daily, equipped with sufficient storage, processing power, and memory, industrial control equipment was not designed to run functions other than their intended processes. Additionally, the continuous operation of the network is a mandatory condition that any introduced security equipment must adhere to, ensuring no disruption in the synchronization of communications between devices.

To implement a cybersecurity architecture for the industrial environment, the first step is to understand the attack vectors. We invite you to attend our colleague Daniel's presentation, Chief Technology Officer, to see an analysis of these vectors and best practices for protecting these networks.

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