Today’s network infrastructure has become increasingly complex and intricate. The operational and IT networks are interlinked to ensure smooth operations with anytime access to systems, apps, data, and people to drive higher productivity, with quality, and, thus, ensure lower costs. But with all these benefits, the risks, too, are high. Closer integration between IT, operation network (OT), and cloud domains has increased the chances of a cyberattack. Cybercriminals are always on the lookout to primarily attack the OT infrastructure to disrupt industrial networks. There have been multiple cyberattacks on industrial organizations, which have had devastating impacts on the overall health of organizations for the simple reason that many businesses are still struggling to secure their OT infrastructures.
The Zero Trust Security model has been gaining momentum over the years and has been successfully minimizing cyberattacks in the enterprise workforce, workloads, and the workplace. It can be a win-win for industrial operations as well. Let’s get to know the details in this Blog.
What is Zero Trust Security?
Zero Trust Security is a network security framework that is based on the assumption that every network is at the plight of risk to internal and external threats. As the name suggests, it is a framework that trusts nobody before successful validation. It ensures that every user, inside or outside the network, is verified, authorized, and validated in real-time to ensure good security practices. Post a thorough user evaluation, users are granted or restricted access to an organization’s application/data. It is the most suited to address modern-day challenges, including securing remote workers, hybrid cloud environments, and ransomware threats.
The need for Zero Trust Security for industrial operations
Industry 4.0 has forced businesses to embrace the digital revolution, which has resulted in ensuring seamless data transfer between enterprise IT industrial OT. This streamlining of data transfer between IT, OT, and the cloud has resulted in enhanced business operations. However, this integration has increased the number of cyber-attacks on both industrial and enterprise network infrastructures.
Traditional security tools like Industrial Demilitarized Zones (IDMZ) are becoming obsolete, but they remain one of the essential steps to protect industrial operational networks. Yet, embracing digitization needs advanced tools to protect the network because of the assumption that no user, application, or device can always remain trustworthy.
Enterprises today need robust tools like Zero Trust Security infrastructure to protect their industrial workforce, workplace, networks, and servers. This model creates an initial trust level between all the connected devices and users based on their job roles. This security infrastructure ensures that all users and devices will have to validate themselves in real-time to establish trust and compliance with every access request. The Zero Trust Security architecture identifies not just users but also the endpoints and applications to give access to the minimum information, which they require as per the access request.
Enterprises need to have clear visibility of what’s connected to the network. This helps industrial OTs analyze what they are protecting and validate the device identity in real-time. Many industrial operations do not have access to the updated inventory of their enterprise. The Zero Trust Security framework gives a real-time overview of all the users and devices on the network real-time.
Industrial operations have various software solutions installed to streamline operations. These industrial assets might have different vulnerabilities that need to be identified. It is challenging to manage such an overwhelming number of vulnerabilities in bigger enterprises. Businesses need to prioritize their strategies to enhance compliance management.
There are a number of industrial assets or devices that have been developed without keeping the security features in mind. According to ISA99/IEC-62443, once the device has been given access to the network, it needs to be added to the industrial zone. It is indeed a perfect way to isolate the industrial devices based on micro and macro segmentation techniques to contain the threat.
Identification of the threat and response:
The Zero Trust Security framework does not just stop with just granting access requests to the user or device. This model tracks communications in real-time to identify malicious traffic and suspicious behaviors. This network security architecture reports abnormal events immediately and takes action in real-time to minimize the impact on industrial operations.
A challenge to secure remote access to plants and machines:
Operational technology and industrial control systems play a major role in the supply chain of sectors such as manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and transportation, among others. OT/ICS environments are facing new cyber risks with the rise of hybrid-remote work, expansion of distributed locations, and increased demand for widespread industrial digitization. Furthermore, remote tracking, maintaining, and upgrading the plants and machinery has helped industries save costs and enhance uptime. Traditionally OT personnel have connected to industrial equipment and systems using remote-access VPNs, but such solutions have also increased the surface area for the attackers to access the network and exploit trusted access. Zero Trust Security framework secures your remote plants and machinery at any location. As a result, zero trust architecture protects industrial operations from cyberattacks, equipment failure, and other threats.
How does Zero Trust security architecture work for industrial operations?
A comprehensive Zero Trust Security framework for industrial operations will ensure that policies are maintained consistently throughout the user sessions.
Mobile Device Management (MDM):
Track and manage the integrity of all industrial assets, devices, and the database stored on them.
Identity and Access Management (IAM):
Industrial operations can keep an eye on users and applications that request access to an organization’s devices, servers, data, or applications. Identity and access management will help industrial OTs manage user rights and privileges, establish a secure MFA session, and security throughout the session.
Privileged Access Management (PAM):
Enterprises can track all the privileged accounts and credentials within their secured systems, devices, and applications. Privileged access management will assist industry operations with account and credential discovery, vaulting, randomization, and session management.
Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA):
Zero Trust Network access ensures secure delivery of messages right from network entry to the exit point.
Secure Internet Access (SIA):
SIA features will align an organization’s policies to access websites exchanging data with third-party websites or applications. Secure internet access is the most efficient way to protect network devices from external compromises. SIA will have advanced tools like DNS-layer security, URL filtration, Cloud Security Access Broker (CASB), data loss protection, Remote Browser Isolation (RBI).
Secure Remote Access (SRA):
SRA tools will give enterprises end-to-end remote connection security to protect their devices, applications, and data on the network. A secure remote access tool will protect industrial assets from external compromises. It helps establish a secure external connection with protected devices on the network throughout the session.
The following Zero Trust Security framework will assist the industrial OT to mitigate risk:
- Establish trust:
Explore and understand your industrial operations endpoints.
- Set access policies:
The IT and OT teams set endpoint secure zones with similar privilege access.
- Validate policies:
The Zero Trust Security model evaluates the traffic and validates access policies to minimize disruption in services.
- Enforce trust:
This network security architecture manages and processes multi-level network segmentation to protect the trust zones.
- Verify trust:
Zero Trust Security framework evaluates the endpoint behavior to spot and highlight the risks.
- Mitigate risk:
This network security framework helps industries spot both IT and OT to analyze the root cause and have an efficient remediation strategy.
Industries need a well-connected workforce to make the most of their enterprise and enhance its productivity. Cybersecurity is one of the biggest concerns of the connected workforce. Zero Trust Security architecture will validate, authorize and verify the users, applications, and devices throughout their session.