Process plant automation systems are engineered over a long period to ensure repeatable, reliable, available, and safe operations. However, increased connectivity to business systems has also increased the vulnerability of control systems to cyber-attacks.
Organizations are now pushed to prioritize cybersecurity so that their systems remain secure, stable, and protected. But how and where do they even begin their cybersecurity journey?
Emerson recommends a cybersecurity risk assessment to evaluate gaps in currently implemented strategies, technologies, and policies and procedures. The output of the assessment will provide a roadmap for identifying, prioritizing, and eliminating vulnerabilities.
To begin, operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT) teams must be aware of three common missteps:
- Assuming the team already knows and understands all the risks
Cybersecurity is not a set-and-forget solution. It is constantly evolving, and antivirus software and firewalls are no longer sufficient to secure and protect a system. A cyber risk assessment can help teams identify, document, prioritize and build a roadmap around the highest threat vulnerabilities. This roadmap provides a guide for creating solutions and the required framework to protect the plant.
- Believing in a single solution to fix all risks and threats
Cybersecurity is not a single solution. There are no shortcuts, especially when dealing with cyber security on an industrial scale. Cybersecurity requires constant testing and evaluation of systems and solutions on their compatibility and effectiveness to a plant’s process.
- Assigning the cybersecurity program as a low priority with limited funding
Cybersecurity should be a priority. The simplest example of inaction is assigning a small department handling IT and OT on a limited budget. It is easy for such a team to become overwhelmed because there are so many vulnerabilities to address with their limited resources and funding. Not every problem needs to be fixed at once. Organizations can start with individual solutions and build toward a comprehensive, in-depth strategy to manage budget and resource concerns. A good cybersecurity risk assessment will allow businesses to prioritize what they most need to build an effective first defense system at a reasonable cost.
Increased connectivity to business systems launches businesses forward, but it also raises the relevance of cybersecurity protection to maintain the safety and security of control systems. A cyber risk assessment is one of the most practical ways to begin approaching cybersecurity. This lays the groundwork for a sustainable and robust cybersecurity system that can help future-proof businesses.