10 Tips to Secure SCADA Networks from Hackers

Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) networks have desktops, big machines, laptops, network devices, sensors, etc. to perform key functions in big infrastructures that include power generation, power distribution, natural gas, gasoline, water management, waste treatment plant, etc. These are the critical infrastructures of any country. To secure SCADA networks, we discuss and provide you 10 Tips to Secure SCADA Networks from Hackers.

(1) Perform Risk Assessment to identify all SCADA components in the network

Risk assessment is essential to identify the components of the SCADA system. This activity gives you a whole idea regarding the different parts deployed in a system. In addition, it gives you a security posture of the SCADA system by allowing you to see the security measures employed in a network.

(2) Perform security measures to mitigate risks identified in Risk Assessment activity

After the successful completion of the Risk Assessment, another activity is to take measures to mitigate identified risks. Some of the measures include but are not limited to

  • Isolating unused components and devices in a network,
  • Blocking unnecessary ports on the Internet,
  • Remove/disable unnecessary services/software deployed in a network
  • Harden components and devices as per industry best practices

(3) Never trust proprietary protocols to secure systems

If your vendors are fully transparent in providing details of security implementation, most of the issues vanish automatically. But in practice, most of them follow the principle to achieve security by obscurity.

(4) Renew deployed components and devices once recommended by vendors

This is the major problem associated with SCADA systems. As the price of any component is on the higher side, management generally takes a long time to replace same. One of the other reasons is the availability of compatible hardware available in the market. Most of the old components deployed in a system have security issues such as backdoors, known vulnerabilities, etc. Hackers generally need only one or two vulnerabilities to enter into the system.

(5) Implement a well-trained 24 X 7 Incident Response team

Implementing security measures is one part, and incident response is another trade that needs to implement to secure things once some breach is detected by the security team. The preparation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and implementation is the critical aspect of a successful response to any cyber attack.

(6) Arrange Technical Security Audits of the SCADA system from an independent agency

Quality security auditing can find ninety percent of security issues available in a network. It is recommended to conduct audits regularly and frequency will be based on recommendations of security experts. These audits helped organizations to ensure configurational issues in the SCADA network.

(7) Create internal Red teams having expertise in SCADA security to perform attacks just like Hackers

Create an internal SCADA Red team to simulate cyber attacks. This activity allows management to see how effective the security posture of the entire SCADA system. If an in-house Red team is not available, an organization may hire an external agency to do the activity.

(8) Create Disaster Recovery and System Backup Plan

In case of an actual cyber attack, a disaster recovery plan is the savior of that situation. To create an effective disaster recovery plan, regular drills may be organized, and identifying gaps in the exercise. Those gaps will provide an opportunity to implement more measures to fill those security gaps.

In addition, a system backup plan is essential to mitigate the risk of failing the system because of some reason. Ensure the system backup plan is effective against any mishappening.

(9) Implement Hardware and Software Configuration Management Plan

Managing the SCADA system is not easy. If an effective configuration management plan is not in place, it is almost impossible to identify changes in hardware and software deployed in a network. Hence, It is essential to create a proper log for deploying hardware and software in a SCADA network. This small measure will help in identifying changes in the whole SCADA system easily.

(10) Approval of Security Processes from Higher Management

Remember to get approvals from higher management for all the processes you follow to secure the SCADA system. The more you are informed about the risks associated with the SCADA system, the more easily you get approvals for any measure to improve the cyber security posture of the whole system.

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If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below. Nothing gives me greater joy than helping my readers!

Disclaimer: This tutorial is for educational purpose only. Individual is solely responsible for any illegal act.

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