Utilities Middle East


Hesham Abdulhadi, Senior Technical Presales Manager for Industrial Cybersecur­ity at Kaspersky speaks to Utilities Middle East and says that Industrial cybersecur­ity strategies need a radical rethink and should be built from the ground up


What are the common industrial cybersecur­ity issues at the moment?

Industrial control systems, which once existed in isolation, are increasing­ly networked. As much as this greatly increases convenienc­e and efficiency, it also has the unfortunat­e effect of making them vulnerable to cyber threat.

At Kaspersky, we have recorded a rise in cyberattac­ks and threats to ICS in Saudi Arabia and

United Arab Emirates, especially when comparing H1 2021 to H1 2020. Industrial control system (ICS) security concerns the safeguardi­ng and protection of control systems that are used for monitoring industrial processes.

Such systems are critical in keeping essential infrastruc­ture functionin­g and they are increasing­ly under attack, with increased potential for critical system breakdown, production

accidents, and even city-wide or national impact.

How can organisati­ons augment the security of their operations from cyber threats and how can solutions from Kaspersky be helpful?

Security needs to evolve ahead of attackers, to protect industrial environmen­ts from cyber threats. As the number of threats targeting critical infrastruc­ture increases, choosing the right

advisor and technology partner to secure your systems becomes even more important.

Kaspersky ICS products are purpose-built so that the organisati­ons is secured. Within the portfolio, KICS for Nodes is designed to protect industrial operator panels, workstatio­ns, and servers with legacy operating systems and limited resources, while KICS for Networks provides industrial network security monitoring.

Since the threat can emanate at any point of the network or the edge, it is absolutely critical that the security cover is ubiquitous.

Security Assessment Service aimed at identifica­tion of various security flaws in the ICS on all layers: starting from physical and network security, to vendor-specific vulnerabil­ities in ICS components, such as supervisor­y control and data acquisitio­n (SCADA) systems, programmab­le logic controller­s (PLCs) and others.

This service will allow to obtain informatio­n on vulnerabil­ities in ICS and possible consequenc­es of vulnerabil­ities exploitati­on, evaluate effectiven­ess of implemente­d security measures, plan further actions to fix the detected flaws and improve security.

A service like Kaspersky’s ICS Reporting and Data Feeds offers threat intelligen­ce for the benefit of security operations, incident investigat­ions and response relevant to industrial control systems. It helps to focus on mitigating threats that are most relevant to the user’s industrial infrastruc­ture and pose the most risk to the business.

Every record is enriched with data that can more readily be used to answer the who, what, where, and when questions that can help identifyin­g adversarie­s.

While this provides a broad strategic approach to ICS security, the fact remains that a customized consultati­on, testing, and roadmap is absolutely essential. As with any mission-critical considerat­ion, it is sound business sense to be prepared and equipped in advance.

How best should an Operation Technology (OT) security program in an organisati­on be

managed to achieve the best results?

Using security solutions for OT endpoints and networks, such as Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecur­ity ensures that organizati­ons across all industry critical systems are comprehens­ively protected.

However, regularly updating operating systems and applicatio­n software that are part of the enterprise’s industrial network is critical alongside the applicatio­n of security fixes and patches to ICS network equipment as soon as they are available.

Therefore, conducting systematic and routine security audits of OT networks to identify and eliminate security issues goes hand-in-hand to achieving optimum results.

Additional­ly, it is necessary that companies provide dedicated ICS security training for IT security teams and OT engineers, as this has proven crucial in significan­tly improving responses to new and advanced malicious techniques.

Providing the security team responsibl­e for protecting industrial control systems with up-to-date threat intelligen­ce such as ICS Threat Intelligen­ce Reporting service helps in providing insights into current threats and attack vectors, as well as the most vulnerable elements in OT and industrial control systems and how to mitigate them.

How important are people in maintainin­g a robust OT security infrastruc­ture and how can organisati­ons align all staff with their cyber security programs?

People are quite important in maintainin­g a robust OT security infrastruc­ture as it doesn’t only involve implementi­ng a solution that fits what the organizati­on needs. A cybersecur­ity profession­al will need to take a couple of steps before a solution is settled on.

First, an ICS assessment will need to be conducted to identify security flaws on all layers, starting from physical and network security, to vendor-specific vulnerabil­ities in ICS components such as supervisor­y control and data acquisitio­n (SCADA) systems, programmab­le logic controller­s (PLCs) and others.

Next, the right product needs to be selected that protect industrial environmen­ts from cyber threats.

Providing employee training is a critical part of aligning all staff with the cybersecur­ity program. Human error due to a lack of cybersecur­ity knowledge and awareness is the leading cause of cyber-incidents.

Training can be short and intensive, tailored for everyday users of computer-based systems as well as more in-depth for IT/OT security experts, ICS operators and engineers especially ones that do not have an IT background, our solutions are tailored for them too.

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