In modern conditions, companies’ infrastructures are developing rapidly. The volume of data processed by them is increasing accordingly. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a tool that makes it possible to successfully automate the management and analysis of technological processes. However, despite all its advantages, many companies are in no hurry to introduce IIoT into their production. One of the main obstacles is the complexity of ensuring IIoT cyber security. After all, the more devices that are connected to the network, the more targets for hacker attacks appear.
Today, the problem of securing IIoT infrastructures is especially topical. During a pandemic, companies have to configure remote access to their systems more often. This increases the vulnerability of enterprises’ IIoT systems to cyber attacks. The absence of workers on-site makes it easier for hackers to intercept access to equipment.
Successful intrusions lead to equipment breakdowns, forced downtime, and even a threat to human life and health. That’s why it is critically important to thoroughly analyze the company’s security system for possible attack vectors. However, there are several most commonly used general ways, via which hackers successfully break into systems and steal data.
Vulnerabilities in IIoT security
1. Missing or abandoning updates
IIoT infrastructures often become vulnerable due to security update issues. Security updates are essential for the stability and efficiency of IIoT systems. Why don’t manufacturers run these processes as often as they should?
Updating devices should affect all units. This means the need to upgrade the entire IIoT infrastructure. Such actions require interruption of the technological process. In addition, developing and testing updates for IIoT systems is a time-consuming process. And sometimes, their implementation entails errors, and additional correction of device settings is required.
Continuity of the production process and absence of downtime is a priority for manufacturers. That’s why updating is postponed for the long term or rejected completelyl. An older version, already learned by attackers and with bugs that are not yet fixed, is much easier to hack.
2. Uniting all devices into one network
Nowadays, there is a tendency to connect devices to a corporate network. Uniting the information security monitoring system between IIoT segments makes it possible to collect all data in a single place and have a broader context. However, this only works for small businesses.
With the development of a company’s infrastructure, the variety of objects that it connects to the system increases. If different types of devices are connected into one macro group, conducting an inventory becomes difficult. Moreover, this creates a vast field for potential hacker attacks.
3. Absence of real-time monitoring of sensors and devices
If a company doesn’t systematize information about all the devices used, there is a risk of losing one or several of them. Nevertheless, devices that are out of sight or not used can be connected to the Internet or the internal network. Having gained control over one of such devices, hackers can use it as a loophole to your system.
In addition, due to oversight, devices are often left with their original passwords and default settings. If hackers gain access to the data of a supplier, it won’t be difficult for them to seize the device and then the entire network.
4. Insecure data
The priority for security is the company’s software. If hackers successfully attack and gain access to systems, this can lead to various negative consequences.
However, the data generated by IIoT devices must not be overlooked. Most often, they are transmitted in unencrypted form. Interception of this data can entail the disclosure of the company’s trade secrets and financial and reputational losses.
However, the cyber security technologies for IIoT are constantly updating and improving. They allow enterprises to correctly identify potential risks and conduct threat penetration testing. In general, some common patterns can be identified.
Recommendations for ensuring cyber security of IIoT infrastructures
1. Always install updates
Security is something you can’t put at risk. The company’s attempt to save money and time by refusing updates can turn into much higher costs and losses in the future.
2. Divide IIoT networks into segments
Forming groups of different types of devices will help enterprises avoid the possibility of hackers attacking the entire network simultaneously. The creation of micro-groups of connected objects will allow companies to better and more efficiently build an end-to-end security system. In addition, if the captured sensor or device is isolated from the organization’s network, hackers won’t gain access to the overall network, even in the case of a successful attack.
3. Encrypt transmitted data
Attacks can be made not only on the software of devices but also on data transmitted between them. Encrypting this information helps businesses avoid leaking their trade secrets.
4. Take an inventory of devices you have and use
A system that your employees missed during inventory is not taken into account when assessing security measures. Therefore, make sure that it doesn’t become a loophole for criminals to capture data from your entire network.
5. Raise awareness of IIoT security among your employees
Your staff must be informed about the systems they directly work with and what vulnerabilities these systems have. This will help workers keep track of every element of the infrastructure and, if necessary, promptly take action.
Insufficient security of IIoT devices can have negative consequences. Successful hacker attacks on such systems jeopardize the company’s reputation, the quality of products or services, and even the health and lives of people. To mitigate risks, companies must properly and promptly secure their network of devices.
Andersen has a proven track record of IIoT infrastructure auditing, penetration testing, and risk and threat modeling. Our solutions are used by customers from different countries. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about your company’s IIoT security capabilities.