TechnologyJune 1, 2021

The first line of defence for industrial networks

Network Security Notifications

Technology solutions are providing companies ways to eliminate network vulnerabilities and strengthen security, bridging the gap between OT and IT and sparking widespread interest in industry. Although the focus is often on external attacks, internal threats can be just as damaging to industrial networks.

The importance of IT-security has been acknowledged by experts for years whereas securing Industrial Control Systems seems to have been overlooked. Whilst attacks on Operational Technology (OT) environments are becoming more frequent, companies are looking for ways to eliminate network vulnerabilities and bridge the gap between OT and IT. Procentec, the global leader in diagnostic and monitoring solutions, has sparked a widespread interest in the industry with the release of four major solutions to strengthen your industrial network security.

External and internal threats

Although the focus is often on external attacks, such as malware, phishing and hackers, internal threats can be just as damaging and more likely to occur. Whether it’s a mistake due to inexperience with a task or protocol, or with the intention to inflict damage, these threats can lead to costly downtime.

Keeping track of modifications to your physical assets is more important than ever. But if your industrial network security doesn’t extend much beyond a firewall, your devices are vulnerable. A firewall won’t protect your network from people who know how to go around it. Even if your network is air gapped, you can’t safeguard it against authorised individuals who make an error.

The Security License tackles the everyday threat posed by unintentional and bad actors. It permanently monitors any planned or unplanned changes to your devices, giving your industrial network an extra layer of protection.

Some of its key features include ‘Quiet Hours’ and ‘Maintenance Mode’. Quit Hours will tell you if there is any communication on your network when there shouldn’t be any (e.g. events, night-time, weekends, holidays etc.). Maintenance Mode allows you to make changes on your network without getting a security alert.

In addition to this, there are multiple inspections included to tackle the most often overlooked security vulnerabilities. The Port Scan, SNMP Write Access Scan, Device Password Scan and Communication Baseline Scan make sure all the entries to your network are secured.

Network Threats

Protecting industrial networks from accidental or intentional changes

Sudden changes to your Ethernet-based network—like a lost device or the installation of different firmware—can spell disaster if they’re unplanned, unauthorized or undiscovered. They could be the result of a malfunction or a sign of an intentional attack.

Network Compare is a built-in feature of Osiris, Procentec’s powerful monitoring and diagnostics tool. It notifies you of sudden changes to your Ethernet-based network. It works by creating a snapshot of your network’s status at any given time. Network Compare sends out a variety of alerts from the notification centre whenever a change occurs, giving you time to act in an appropriate and timely manner. This feature easily Integrates with SCADA and other systems via OPC-UA and MQTT.

Maintaining data integrity from source to device with help of blockchain technology

Updating software in a decentralized OT environment can be a haphazard affair. But not knowing what has been installed can pose serious risks to your network. According to Honeywell’s latest USB Threat Report, the number of USB threats specifically targeting OT-systems has almost doubled from 16% to 28% in 2020. The risks are way bigger than just spreading malware: a USB-device can even be used to attack systems directly.

LockBox is designed to overcome the persistent problem of unverified and randomly-downloaded software. This blockchain-based platform provides a centrally-controlled catalogue of approved firmware, manual brochures, release notes and datasheets for individual network devices. It allows you to share the latest files safely with authorized users and stops the distribution of files via email, shared folders or USB sticks.

Ensuring best engineering practices across the entire organization

Onboarding new field technicians can be challenging, especially when you have a complex, critical or extensive industrial network. You can’t be looking over their shoulder all the time. On the other hand, you don’t want them to struggle on their own, running the risk that they’ll accidentally do something that damages your industrial network.

SeeVerify is an interactive tool that guides industrial technicians—step by step—through routine and not-so routine tasks. It enables you to create, edit and publish customized instructions company-wide.

With build in OCR software, multiple templates, decision three algorithms, auto inputs and on-screen guidance, lead engineers have a new easy-to-use solution that facilitates the onboarding, training and reassignment of their technicians.

Network Threats

Network partner

Procentec is a global leader in diagnostic and monitoring solutions for the industrial automation market. It develops and manufactures automation products for PROFIBUS, PROFINET, EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT and other Industrial Ethernet protocols. Some of its products are the most recognised solutions on the market today, including ProfiTrace, ProfiHub, ComBricks, Osiris, Atlas and Mercury.

It is also a certified PROFIBUS and PROFINET Competence and Training Centre. The Procentec Academy has certified over 4,000 engineers to implement and maintain their PROFINET and PROFIBUS networks to the highest standards available. In addition, experienced consultants assist on projects around the world, advising on architecture, engineering, training and commissioning.

Technology report by Procentec