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What does the Ashley Madison hack mean for Industrial Networks?

The recent server breach at controversial dating site, Ashley Madison has brought network security vulnerability issues into the limelight again. There is no doubt that the number and scope of data loss and leak occurrences are on the increase. The impact of such leaks are being felt worldwide.

Information does leak and the consequences can be severe and disruptive. Protecting networks from hackers and preventing the loss of data are key challenges in the world of data communication. 

Compared to enterprise IT, security in the industrial operational technology sector is a relatively immature concept, however, industrial control systems have become an area of increasing concern for cyber security as information technology and operational technology are more intertwined.  

The Internet of Things (IoT) sees more and more devices connected in industrial networks - this includes everything from physical security IP cameras and industrial control systems (ICS) to HVAC systems and mobile devices.  The most obvious risk of connecting all devices on a single network is that one vulnerable system is a potential pathway to the entire network.

Industrial Ethernet switches form the backbone of modern industrial network infrastructure and are used in critical environments such as substations, factories, refineries, ports, or anywhere that has industrial automation.  

If attackers compromise or infiltrate these switches, malicious firmware can be used to manipulate live processes such as the shutting down of a plant or systems that relate to power, transport, water, gas and other critical infrastructure.  The ramifications of such a breach are wide-spread and would not only impact the organisation, but also communities, businesses, services and governments.

Veronica Cavero, Technical Support Engineer at Madison Technologies, recommends that clients implement an independent monitoring process for the detection of possible security attacks and respond to them. “Most Industrial Ethernet switches have configurations that you can turn on or modify that will strengthen the networks security such as firewalls, security policies, port blocking, VPN (data encryption), packet filtering, etc.”
“Applying monitoring and detection processes to network operations, as well as investing in smart  technology with flexible cyber security options is key to delivering reliable protection for modern network infrastructure,” finished Veronica.

Cyber security protection is now a central factor in the procurement process for industrial network operators, with greater demand for inherently more secure systems from suppliers.

However, although organisations require a higher level of security, it is cost and other factors that hold more weight when it comes to making the final purchasing decision.   

Network design considerations must extend beyond simply ensuring that components can communicate, to ensuring that the network architecture will be resistant to attack. The ramifications of a data communications network breach on critical infrastructure are too important to dismiss for short term cost savings.

Phone Madison on 1800 72 79 79 to learn more about our cyber security services and range.