7 tips for an industrial Ethernet cyber security strategy

Industrial operations are becoming more aware of their vulnerability to cyber mischief or cyber attacks. Here are seven tips that can create the foundation for a cyber security strategy.

09/03/2010


 

Industrial operations are becoming more aware of their vulnerability to cyber mischief or cyber attacks. Internet protocol (IP) strategy allows organizations access to more and better data and cost-effective remote monitoring and control of facilities, but it requires thought to avoid malicious or accidental security incidents. Here are seven tips that can create the foundation for a cyber security strategy. 

1) Physical:  Cyber security starts with physical security.  If outsiders cannot gain access to the premises, it is harder for them to access sensitive data. 

2) Firewalls:  Protect cyber assets with firewalls at the cyber perimeters of your critical cyber assets just as you protect the physical perimeter.

3) Port access control:  In addition to denying access to the building, disallowing unauthorized devices to be plugged into ports on switches and routers makes for a more secure environment.

4) Password health and authentication:  Change passwords regularly – and make sure that they are long enough and complex enough that they are difficult to crack.  Then consider adding authentication.  More secure than simple authorization (which ensures the person accessing the system is using the right code), authentication ensures that the person or device requesting access is who he/it says he/it is.

5) Encryption:  Fiber cabling is much more secure than copper when used to relay data between secure locations.  Sending encrypted data adds an extra level of protection outside secure facilities.

6) VPNs and VLANs:  Virtual Private Networks and Virtual LANS both provide extra layers of security for transmissions over multi-purpose transport networks.

7) Employee training:  Security is only as good as the practices that are in place.  Employees, without meaning to create a security breach, can be lax with passwords, security codes and other primary measures unless they are educated – and reminded – about the importance of security.

- Peter Wood is vice president of operations for GarrettCom Inc. www.garrettcom.com.

Also read, from Control Engineering:

10 Control System Security Threats;

Securing Legacy Control Systems; and

Cyber security for control systems: More tips, warnings from INL

- Edited by Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering, www.controleng.com.