Cyberattacks appear in headline news daily, and industrial control systems are high-value targets because they are vulnerable and can cause great turmoil if disrupted. Because of this, many hackers have shifted their attention to industrial control systems over traditional IT systems.
Why Industrial Control Systems Are Vulnerable
There are many reasons why industrial control systems are particularly vulnerable to hacker attacks:
- Industrial control systems now rely more on connectivity than ever before for basic operations and keep things running smoothly.
- Because these systems often are comprised of equipment from many different vendors, each part within the system has different security measures in place, meaning that one software vulnerability can allow hackers into the entire industrial control system.
- Industrial control systems do not have the same security oversight as traditional IT systems.
- Equipment within these systems often includes software that cannot be updated or patched.
- Industrial control systems equipment is typically used by manufacturing personnel, who don’t often have IT experience, especially with cybersecurity
Industrial control systems consist of operational technology such as sensors, programmable logic controllers, actuators, and even robots that manage, monitor, and maintain the systems—the more interconnected the systems, the greater the damage that can be done overall.
Damage that Hackers Can Do Through Industrial Control Systems
So you might think hackers can’t do any damage if they can access the conveyor belt system used in shipping and receiving, but you would be completely wrong. Here are some of the ways hackers can do damage to your company by hacking industrial control systems:
- Access primary IT systems or more critical systems by moving into these systems laterally.
- Steal trade secrets and intellectual property.
- Obtain confidential information such as customer lists, marketing plans, policies and procedures, etc.
- Secretly monitor internal traffic and other data such as email.
- Take control of manufacturing, operations, or infrastructure equipment and cause damage, sabotage operations, or even hold it hostage.
Tips for Keeping Your Industrial Control System Safe
So what can you do to protect yourself from this damage? Take these actions:
- Create security policies for the industrial control system equipment specifically and ensure that everyone follows them.
- When purchasing new equipment for your industrial control system, be sure that it has a means to update the software and/or hardware for the system so that newly discovered vulnerabilities can be addressed.
- Assign an individual or team that works with IT to maintain the control system equipment and make sure that hackers cannot get into the system through industrial control system equipment.
- Hire an industrial control system specialist who understands the importance of security and designs these systems to maximize operational security.
The moral of the story is that don’t allow the security of industrial control system equipment to be forgotten or fall through the cracks. Create awareness of security vulnerabilities and ensure the key individuals know how to address them. Don’t put your whole organization at risk by allowing a security breach to occur via your industrial control systems.
Hire the Best Industrial Control System Specialists in the Southeastern US
Tri-State Electrical Contractors do not only install electrical equipment for commercial and industrial customers all over the Southeastern United States but also can help you install and configure industrial control systems for your operations securely. For more information, give us a call at (423) 800-2134, fill out our simple online form, or email us at email@example.com today.