Modern industrial firms make use of Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) networks for various functions. This includes monitoring and analyzing the real-time data, controlling the local as well as industrial processes in the remote location, communicating with the devices, logging data for auditing purposes, etc.
Since the SCADA networks are constituted by hardware as well as software, they are prone to vulnerabilities. SCADA cybersecurity involves protecting its networks which are made up of the hardware components and applications for assessing the vital infrastructure. Various essential utility systems such as natural gas, electricity, water, etc. make use of SCADA network. Such diverse roles make it necessary to secure them from hackers, malware, terrorists as well as insiders' errors.
It is essential to know the weaknesses of the SCADA system that makes it easy for the attackers to break its security. These are as follows:
1. Loopholes in app development:
Apps play a vital role in SCADA ICS systems today but when they are made, their security feature is not developed to such an extent that it can be protected from any threats, which makes it vulnerable to any kind of attack.
2.Lack of training:
Every employee dealing with the SCADA systems is aware of the basics but they are not provided with sufficient training that they can prevent, monitor or identify any potential threat to the system security.
3. Outdates software:
If the latest updates and security patches are not installed, the functionality of the SCADA systems will not improve and the bugs also won't be removed, if any. Delay in updating the system can make it prone to attacks.
4. Lack of proper monitoring:
Monitoring means to ensure the proper functioning of the system as well as to detect the threats if any. Most often, till the hackers access the system and start exploiting it, you won't be able to identify it easily. So having a professional SCADA monitoring software is the key here.
Preventive measures to ensure SCADA security:
1. Documentation of all the systems that are connected to the internet as well as interconnected, has to be done. This includes each and every hardware, software, firmware, and applications. Those who are accessing the apps must also be documented. This will help in detecting the data entry points as well as the exit points in case of any hacking or malware attack.
2. The systems have to be controlled for proper monitoring and detection which will reduce the probability of an attack significantly. Important business systems can be separated by employing network segmentation. The alignment of physical security and cybersecurity is essential since the attacks occur at both levels. In order to build a defensive security posture for SCADA networks, certain security measures such as Application whitelisting, firewalls, and unidirectional gateways can be used.
Besides all this, constant security checks, monitoring the reports and standard protocols needs to be employed by anyone who accesses the systems. Assessment of the assets, vulnerabilities and the risks on a continuous basis for keeping up with the changing scenario helps in dealing with the vulnerabilities easily.