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Jonathan Newell speaks with experts in information security about the specific problems they face in reducing vulnerabilities in an increasingly connected world

Securing the IIoT

billions of sensors, RFID tags,machine tools and shop floor equipment. All of these use a vast variety of operating systems,


 A mixture of operating systems, bespoke software and network protocols complicate securing the Industrial Internet of Things

standard and bespoke software as well as a broth of different communication protocols. Given the security industry’s track record for securing information in the comparatively simple office IT environment, things do not bode well for industrial systemsecurity. However, there are a number of security

companies that havemade it theirmission to tackle IIoT security and grapple it into submission before the hackersmake a completemeal of it. And as you can see fromthe three we feature, different approaches are being taken.

TREATING THE IIOT THE SAME AS IT To distinguish between the office IT systems that most people are familiar with and the new world of connected devices, the industry has coined the term OT for “operational technology”. According to some suppliers, including Skybox, OT presents the same kind of security challenges as do IT networks. Commenting on this notion, Skybox’s director of

productmarketing, Kevin Flynn, says: “Industrial systems are not thatmuch different fromIT. OT and IT forman integrated systeminmost enterprises and should bemodelled accordingly.”He asserts that cybercriminals don’t see the two as being different

he Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will be gigantic with the potential to be orders ofmagnitude larger than those of connected office and home IT systems. Industry 4.0 depends on the connection of

but as one contiguous whole. For this reason, the industry shouldn’t view it differently either. Due to the vast number of devices attached to

such networks, Skybox takes the necessary step of using an “agentless” approach. Thismeans that individual things connected to the network (such as computers,machines, cameras, sensors etc) don’t need to have security software loaded onto themin order to be protected. The security comes fromthe network, not the device. Froma decade of experience in security analytics

for companies with large commercial networks, Skybox has understood fromthe start that the first challenge is in understanding what the network comprises. Discovering devices and understanding what they are and what their network traffic expectations are is key to securing the network. “This allows companies to envisage their networks

as an attack surface, which is vulnerable to cyber criminals. Knowing the network topology enables these vulnerabilities to be understood and for policies to be set up to protect them,” explains Flynn.

COMPLEXITY IS THE ENEMY OF SECURITY Using an agentless platform-based approach is something which networking giant Palo Alto Networks, which recently bought up-and-coming IoT security swashbuckler Lightcyber, also agrees with. However, while Palo Alto Networks doesn’t share

the Skybox notion that IT and OT are the same, the company’s senior technologist, AaronMiller, believes that lessons learnt fromsecuring commercial systems should be applied to industrial networks. Commercial security systems are often based on a

October 2017 /// Environmental Engineering /// 49

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