Much has been made of recent ransomware and cyberattacks impacting critical infrastructure – and those incidents are worth learning from. But it’s important not to overweigh narratives regarding cyberattacks on industrial control systems (ICS) when solid asset management cybersecurity measures can often mitigate many common threats and vulnerabilities.
The operators of ICS possess an unparalleled understanding of the infrastructures they oversee, which can give them the upper hand against bad actors (hat tip to the Oldsmar Water operator who noticed something fishy in their HMI). What ICS operators need most are protocols and tools to properly assess potential risks and security gaps.
That’s where asset management comes in. With solid practices and the right supporting tech, operators and OT stakeholders can better trust that their systems are ready for the challenges that come their way.
What is Asset Management Cybersecurity?
Asset management cybersecurity is the continuous process of identifying, assessing, and monitoring the various OT and IT assets your organization’s ICS relies upon.
Like any form of cybersecurity, it involves identifying and minimizing various vulnerabilities and security gaps. But beyond that, asset management involves a holistic tracking of how your various systems interact, how protocols adequately address your system’s weaknesses, and how you might identify, prevent, and circumvent any potential outside interference.
The resources typically reviewed in an asset management cybersecurity evaluation will vary. In manufacturing, oil & gas, and utility infrastructures, reviewable assets can include mechanical equipment, PCs and servers, and the software, firmware, or cloud-based databases which oversee and track the system’s functionality.
In fact, any equipment, device, software, or cloud network that has the potential to affect the operation of the system will fall within the range of a proper asset assessment.
How Asset Management Reduces Threats
A proper asset management cybersecurity protocol should ensure operators have:
- An understanding of how to minimize threats, limit vulnerabilities, and prevent opportunistic attacks.
- Visibility into the operations of systems to address breaches.
- The ability to issue proactive and effective responses to cybersecurity threats, system hindrances, and errors.
Cybersecurity asset management is commonly viewed as a means to protect against nightmare scenarios of malevolent bad actors. But solid protocols also help prevent more common day-to-day issues of simple human and network errors. It’s partly why asset management cybersecurity measures benefit ICS, even if no significant cyberattacks ever occur.
Implementing Asset Management
Many industrial infrastructures’ standard reviews and procedures can already be categorized as asset management cybersecurity measures. These include:
- Vulnerability scans
- Assessments of software and firmware updates
- Digital security management software
- Industrial asset and network monitoring solutions
Asset management cybersecurity measures should continually maximize your operators’ visibility into systems. The best cybersecurity measures do so while minimizing interruptions of industrial operations. When incorporating a new asset management process or updating an old one, it’s essential to evaluate the sustainability of your protocols so they avoid being cumbersome, inefficient, or high-demand.
Benefits of a Small-Footprint Solution
Continuous assessments are necessary to ensure ongoing security as industrial infrastructures grow, update, and adapt. That’s why SynSaber is proud to offer a cybersecurity solution with an ultra-small software footprint that helps operators maintain their extensive understanding of their ICS with minimal impact on the systems themselves.
With our out-of-the-box, sensor-based solution, SynSaber empowers operators to decouple collections and sensing from detection platforms, data lakes, and SIEMs. Asset owners and operators get actionable and curated data from the outer edges of their OT environments, where and when they need it.