Gartner recommends: 10 security controls for Operational Technology

News | 05.08.2021

Gartner predicts by 2025 cyber attackers will have weaponized Operational Technology Environments to successfully harm or kill humans. Organizations can reduce risk by implementing a security control framework.

In operational environments, security and risk management leaders should be more concerned about real world hazards to humans and the environment, rather than information theft. Inquiries with Gartner clients reveal that organizations in asset-intensive industries like manufacturing, resources and utilities struggle to define appropriate control frameworks.

Wam Voster, senior research director at Gartner

According to Gartner, security incidents in OT and other cyber-physical systems (CPS) have three main motivations:

  • actual harm;
  • commercial vandalism (reduced output);
  • reputational vandalism (making a manufacturer untrusted or unreliable).

Gartner recommends: 10 Security Controls for Operational Technology:

  1. Define roles and responsibilities. Appoint an OT security manager for each facility, who is responsible for assigning and documenting roles and responsibilities related to security for all workers, senior managers and any third parties.
  2. Ensure appropriate training and awareness. All OT staff must have the required skills for their roles. Employees at each facility must be trained to recognize security risks, the most common attack vectors and what to do in case of a security incident.
  3. Implement and test incident response. Ensure each facility implements and maintains an OT specific security incident management process that includes four phases: preparation; detection and analysis; containment, eradication and recovery; and post-incident activity.
  4. Backup, restore and disaster recovery. Ensure proper backup, restore and disaster recovery procedures are in place. To limit the impact of physical events such as a fire, do not store backup media in the same location as the backed up system. The backup media must also be protected from unauthorized disclosure or misuse. To cope with high severity incidents, it must be possible to restore the backup on a new system or virtual machine.
  5. Manage portable media. Create a policy to ensure all portable data storage media such as USB sticks and portable computers are scanned, regardless whether a device belongs to an internal employee or external parties such as subcontractors or equipment manufacturer representatives. Only media found to be free from malicious code or software can be connected to the OT.
  6. Have an up-to-date asset inventory. The security manager must keep a continuously updated inventory of all OT equipment and software.
  7. Establish proper network segregation. OT networks must be physically or/and logically separated from any other network both internally and externally. All network traffic between an OT and any other part of the network must go through a secure gateway solution like a demilitarized zone (DMZ). Interactive sessions to OT must use multi-factor authentication to authenticate at the gateway.
  8. Collect logs and implement real-time detection. Appropriate policies or procedures must be in place for automated logging and reviewing of potential and actual security events. These should include clear retention times for the security logs to be retained and protection against tampering or unwanted modification.
  9. Implement a secure configuration process. Secure configurations must be developed, standardized and deployed for all applicable systems like endpoints, servers, network devices and field devices. Endpoint security software like anti-malware must be installed and enabled on all components in the OT environment that support it.
  10. Formal patching process. Implement a process to have patches qualified by the equipment manufacturers before deploying. Once qualified, the patches can only be deployed on appropriate systems with a pre-specified frequency.

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