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Protecting PLC Systems from Security Threats

 Increasing connectivity in industrial facilities provides significant benefits in terms of productivity and process optimization, but it can also increase the risk from cyberattacks, so it is critical that organizations build out an effective, multi-layer cybersecurity strategy. Steve Ward recently laid out best practices for identifying potential vulnerabilities and securing the network, PLC/PACs and control system in a recent article in Control Engineering Europe, “Protecting your PLC systems from security threats.”

The biggest risk posed by remote network access is that it makes it possible for a hacker to gain deeper access to an organization from outside of it, and once they do, it becomes very challenging to prevent unplanned shutdowns, loss of control, data loss, etc. Ward describes how to take a risk-based approach to address vulnerabilities based on the likelihood and impact of each one and discusses some of the important considerations to keep in mind when building a cybersecurity program aimed at staying ahead of emerging threats.

Ward advises, “One way to limit network damage is to have more than a single security control; implement a robust, tiered approach with security controls at many independent levels that an attacker must breach in order to truly compromise the entire system. Having the right cybersecurity defense in-depth strategy helps avoid safety issues and plant shutdowns.”

He explains how to protect the network from external attacks, monitor to detect any attempts quickly, mitigate the risk and limit the damage a potential breach can do, and manage and protect the PLC network. He explores a wide range of security technologies and protocols including network communication port monitoring, anti-malware software, enhanced network segmentation, advancedIoTor application layer firewalls, PLC user authentication management and isolation of the PLC network. Read the full article here.