Industrial Control System (ICS) threats can take many forms, but they are fundamentally focused on disrupting the communications between endpoints — such as valve actuators or pressure sensors — and their command infrastructure. Intent varies from nuisance to operational disruption or outage of ICS production or availability, manipulation of ICS, and physical damage to ICS or related resources.

The critical infrastructure of the Oil and Gas (O&G) industry has become an attractive target because its control network is typically spread over a large geographical area. This makes the physical security of the entire network challenging, but critical. In addition to numerous communication links, many of the network nodes may be comprised of legacy computerized mechanisms, whose processors are not powerful enough to host or interact with modern software security solutions. This IT and OT integration challenge has become a source of vulnerability throughout the industry.

Threats are evolving — so are standards and security architecture complexity. The primary challenge O&G industry security teams face today is that effective cyber defense for critical infrastructure must out-evolve cyber threats, adhere to industry standards and regulations, and function harmoniously with security systems and protocols already in place. Vericlave’s Armored Cloaked Network (ACN) provides a seamless defense-in-depth approach by cloaking the existing systems without the need for network architecture changes.

The O&G sector depends on several critical systems to operate their businesses: servers, controls, sensors, actuators, and more. These systems are the components in SCADA control systems and plant-based Distributed Control Systems (DCS) and must be rigorously protected from evolving security threats. SCADA systems are usually distributed across multiple locations. Once configured, they must maintain exacting control over reliable communications tolerances and resist tampering that might threaten production quality. O&G industry cyber defense systems must follow strict security standards to ensure protection from potentially devastating outcomes.

The requirement for integrated control of these systems means that the sequencing of processes and data must flow smoothly and correctly. Even the slightest tampering with instructions or data can impact the operation of the system, resulting in expensive and damaging shutdowns, and creating the potential for human injury or death.

While some communications links are more secure and located within physically controlled environments, the wide geographical distribution of some assets remain vulnerable to intercept, making the protection of these nodes more difficult. A single point of entry can give a hacker access to any connected portion of the network.

The more complex the network, the more difficult it is to understand and protect its access points.

The majority of cyber attacks could have been prevented or mitigated if the ICS operators were better prepared with proactive measures and their networks had evolved to reflect industry best practices, including:

  • Network segmentation
  • User awareness training
  • Establishing secure communications to remote sites
  • Active monitoring
  • A complete and effective response plan

Applicable standards and guidelines within the O&G industry include the ISA/IEC-62443 standard, the NIST Cyber Security Framework, and the 2018 TSA Pipeline Security Guidelines. In these standards and guidelines, securing control systems and communications requires isolation, segmentation, access control, and monitoring. More specifically, ISA/IEC-62443 and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework focus on best practices for the protection of Industrial Control System (ICS) equipment and the separation of that equipment into zones. These standards also define remote access, monitoring, and device protection parameters.

The Vericlave solution brings all of these requirements into alignment, providing the capability for multi-layered, system-independent encryption, regardless of existing architectures, utilizing dedicated and self-contained capabilities empowered by a time-tested hardware root of trust technology. Relying upon an included key management solution and FIPS-compliant algorithms, the solution has served the United States intelligence and defense communities for decades and provides an incredible reduction in attack surface for both common commercial and “Internet of Everything networks.” Providing protection for data at rest, data in use, and data in motion, the Vericlave solution ensures technology-accelerated security while enabling improved vulnerability management efforts, driving attacker behavior away from critical assets, and restricting lateral traversal opportunities within and beyond protected networks.

Vericlave’s ACN supports and enhances the security required by SCADA standards to fulfill the security needs of upstream and midstream O&G companies, as well as the power generation and transmission sectors, making it an ideal cyber defense solution for any of these industries.