Securing Your ICS Environment: Cybersecurity Protection In Manufacturing


July 9, 2019 by Siobhan Climer and Mishaal Khan

Industrial control systems (ICS) provide the efficient production processes needed to compete in tight, global markets. These systems reduce costs, increase production, and improve overall quality; however, the heightened connectivity of ICS increases the attack surface area, opening the operation up to greater risk of a cyber attack.

Securing your ICS environment is vital to remaining competitive in an industry dogged by malicious attacks, equipment failures, and other data-related threats. Yet many manufacturers and utility providers have yet to secure the ICS effectively.


Hesitation Remains In Adopting Security Controls


ICS are essential to the business. These computer-controlled systems automate many aspects of manufacturing and utility processes, including production, handling, and distribution. This is why many organizations struggle to adopt tight security controls out of concern for operational integrity.

securing your ics environmentWill securing your ICS environment impact system performance?

This is the question that holds some back from adopting robust information security frameworks, like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) security frameworks.

Some organizations worry that adopting strict controls will decrease the efficiencies provided by ICS, thereby affecting output and ROI.


NIST ICS Cybersecurity: Securing Your ICS Environment


It is precisely this lingering hesitation that led NIST to create the Guide to Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Security. These standards seek to enable manufacturing entities to gain the benefits of integrated, connected ICS while also maintaining the highest levels of information security. ICS are placed at a critical point, due to their societal-level function.

Manufacturers and utilities are at high risk for sophisticated malware attacks that seek to weaken the United States economic and national security, due to the reliance by much of the nation’s citizenry on these services.


What’s In The NIST Guide To Securing Your ICS Environment?


The guide, developed by NIST’s highly qualified information security and intelligent systems team, focuses specifically on the following ICS:

  • Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems
  • Distributed Control Systems (DCS)
  • Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)
  • Other control system configurations



By defining the overall ICS architecture and system topologies, the NIST guide identified the typical threats and vulnerabilities in these systems and a set of recommended security countermeasures.

You can’t just read these standards and hope for the best, though. The only way to develop a hardened security posture is to engage in adept information security management. Securing your ICS environment takes forethought, analysis, expertise, and action.


An Expert Team Customizes Security For You


While connected ICS are vulnerable, there are tools and methodologies available to help in securing your ICS environment. In addition to a thorough review and implementation protocol of the NIST frameworks, working with a security analyst to identify the most prevalent threats to your industry and organization is the best way to prevent an attack.

Let our experts provide their expertise to your team, securing your ICS environment against today’s – and tomorrow’s – threats. Join them for a whiteboard session to discuss the threats facing your business and the steps you can take to begin securing your ICS environment.

Register Today.

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About Mindsight

Mindsight, a Chicago IT services provider, is an extension of your team. Our culture is built on transparency and trust, and our team is made up of extraordinary people – the kinds of people you would hire. We have one of the largest expert-level engineering teams delivering the full spectrum of IT services and solutions, from cloud to infrastructure, collaboration to contact center. Our highly-certified engineers and process-oriented excellence have certainly been key to our success. But what really sets us apart is our straightforward and honest approach to every conversation, whether it is for an emerging business or global enterprise. Our customers rely on our thought leadership, responsiveness, and dedication to solving their toughest technology challenges.

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About The Authors

Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.

Mishaal Khan, Mindsight’s Security Solutions Architect, has been breaking and – thankfully – rebuilding computers for as long as he can remember. As a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), CCIE R&S, Security Practitioner, and Certified Social Engineer Pentester, Khan offers insight into the often murky world of cybersecurity. Khan brings a multinational perspective to the business security posture, and he has consulted with SMBs, schools, government institutions, and global enterprises, seeking to spread awareness in security, privacy, and open source intelligence.

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