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A Comprehensive Assessment is 1st Step In ICS Cybersecurity Strategy

Engineers are problem solvers by nature. When presented with a cybersecurity issue, their immediate focus is often on finding a solution. This instinctive reaction can be beneficial in many scenarios, but it can also have unintended consequences. Conducting a comprehensive assessment should be the first move when dealing with any aspect of ICS cybersecurity.

Imagine constructing a house without a set of blueprints. You have a general idea of what the house should look like, but without detailed plans, the project is destined for chaos. Similarly, in the realm of ICS cybersecurity, selecting components and implementing security controls without conducting a proper assessment is like building without blueprints.

Without a clear plan derived from a comprehensive assessment, the risks in ICS environments can remain hidden. How can you accurately gauge these risks, especially concerning the value of the assets or processes you’re safeguarding? Are you over-securing, essentially using a bank vault to protect a single dollar bill? Or are you under-securing, putting your organization at risk of contractual or regulatory penalties if the system fails?

Conducting a comprehensive assessment is crucial. It is the foundation for a robust and effective security strategy. Here are six critical phases to kick start your ICS cybersecurity efforts:

  1. System Identification and Asset Inventory: Start by identifying the system you intend to evaluate and create a detailed inventory of its hardware, software, and firmware components. Assess each system or component’s criticality to the business functions. This step lays the foundation for a thorough assessment.
  2. Risk Assessment: Evaluate the risks associated with the system and its components by systematically analyzing potential threats and vulnerabilities. This process enables you to assess the likelihood and consequences of different incidents. Ask questions like: What if we lose control of this motor? What if we lose visibility into this system?
  3. Determine the Current Security Level: Take stock of the existing security measures in place for the identified risks. Understanding the current security posture is essential before proceeding to enhance it.
  4. Determine the Target Security Level: Align your security objectives with your organization’s business goals and the results of the risk assessment. This step sets the direction for your cybersecurity strategy.
  5. Perform a GAP Analysis: Identify gaps between the current security controls and the desired security level. This analysis pinpoints areas that need immediate attention.
  6. Develop and Document a Remediation Plan: Create a comprehensive plan to address the identified gaps. This plan should include specific steps, timelines, and resource allocation to achieve the most appropriate security level.

By following these six phases, organizations can mitigate risks, optimize resources, and ensure the security of their critical industrial control systems. In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats, a proactive and assessment-driven approach is the key to success.

We’re planning more classes and content on industrial control systems cybersecurity. If your organization has security challenges that need to be addressed today, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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