How To Protect SCADA Networks From Cyber-Attacks?

Applied Tech Review | Thursday, May 12, 2022

SCADA systems, despite their security concerns, are extremely valuable. Because of this, suitable measures must be implemented to improve the security of SCADA networks.

Fremont, CA: In order to provide all Americans with basic services and commodities, SCADA networks use computers and apps. As a result, they are part of the nation's critical infrastructure and must be protected from a wide range of cyberattacks. SCADA networks are widely utilized because they enable data collection and analysis and equipment operation like pumps and valves from remote places. Although they pose a security risk, they are also useful. Security was not a significant consideration in the early days of SCADA networks. As a result, distributed control/SCADA systems are strong in terms of performance, dependability, adaptability, and safety, but their security is generally lacking. SCADA networks may be subject to service interruption, process redirection, or operational data manipulation, posing a risk to public safety or seriously disrupting key infrastructure across the country. In order to appropriately safeguard the nation's vital infrastructure, all businesses, whether government or private, must take action to secure their SCADA networks.

Here’s how to protect SCADA networks from cyber attacks:

Disconnect unrequired connections with the SCADA network

As much as feasible, segregate the SCADA network from other network connections in order to ensure the highest level of security. If the link develops a conduit from or to the Internet, any connection to another network entails security risks. Connecting directly to other networks may make it easier to transfer critical data, but the risk of an attack on the SCADA network is too great to take, so isolation of the SCADA network should be a top priority. Secure data transfer from the SCADA network to the business network can be achieved by using demilitarized zones (DMZs) and data warehousing. In order to prevent the introduction of additional risk through incorrect setup, they must be appropriately planned and deployed.

Do not rely on proprietary protocols to secure SCADA systems

Field devices and servers in certain SCADA systems communicate using proprietary protocols. The secrecy of these protocols is frequently the sole basis for SCADA system security. Unfortunately, there is relatively little "actual" security provided by cryptic protocols. Don't rely on proprietary protocols or factory default settings to protect your computer system. Demand that suppliers reveal any backdoors or vendor interfaces to the SCADA systems and expect them to supply solutions that can be safeguarded.

Implement security features offered by device and system vendors

There are no security measures built into most older SCADA systems. Owners of SCADA systems should demand that their system vendor add security features in the form of product patches or upgrades. There are some modern SCADA devices that ship with minimal security protections, although these functions are frequently disabled in order to make installation easier. Each SCADA device should be examined to see if it has any security features. As an added precaution, many firewalls and other security software come preconfigured with settings that are optimized for ease of use at the expense of overall protection. Configure all security elements to their highest possible setting. A thorough risk assessment should be conducted prior to allowing security levels lower than the maximum.

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