The secret to a successful operational technology cyber security program is real-time, automated asset inventory management software.
Why? It’s simple. You can’t protect assets or create mitigating measures without identifying the types of assets you have. Each asset type is unique in its security shortcomings and by knowing the assets you have, how they are configured, and how critical to operations they are, the better you can protect your network from attacks.
Here are five of the top reasons why your organization benefits from having accurate asset inventory with the help of automated and comprehensive real-time OT asset inventory software.
Automated operational technology asset inventory software offers improved accuracy compared with manual processes, letting you know in real time which assets are connected to a network.
It is important to use a tool that was built specifically for OT that discovers the peculiar asset types seen in the OT space. For example, a few years back, I worked with a client and as I was rolling out our company’s automated asset inventory piece we discovered an entire undocumented wireless network with a handful of unknown assets.
This wireless network provided river water level data to the plant, which was essential to safe operation of steam turbines. Why was this a big deal? Because, the network used WEP encryption. The river water sensor had a web interface and easily could have been hacked to send false readings to the plant and compromise plant safety.
Real-time data means you’ll make more informed decisions on emerging threats while better protecting your networks.
In the old days, the only way to get an accurate inventory of assets was to do a “walkdown.” This means physically locating and documenting every asset in the plant.
Even a perfectionist may inaccurately record data on operational technologies - after all, we are only human and prone to errors. So when walking around a massive plant that covers a large area of real estate, chances are we'll miss a room and assets.
An automated real-time asset inventory software saves time by discovering all of your assets with minimal intervention. The best part is no more walkdowns.
Within minutes of deploying an automated discovery tool, you free up staff time to focus on other tasks.
LEAVES AN AUDIT TRAIL
The OT space has an interesting love-hate relationship with transient assets because these assets, like laptops, pose a massive security risk to delicate OT networks.
However, we engineering types use special software packages, sometimes expensive, to troubleshoot operational issues. This usually means the software is installed on that one laptop in a corner that is rarely used and never connected to receive security patches or anti-virus signature updates.
This laptop also has connections to myriad networks in its lifetime. It’s a necessary evil that requires unique policy and procedural documentation.
Wouldn’t it be great to track where these devices have been in your network?
Automated asset inventory solutions provide this information to you in real-time, letting you audit what assets migrate around your system plus track vendor or third-party equipment that may connect to your network. In the event that a cyber breach occurs, this data could be crucial in determining the point of infiltration.
AUTOMATES DETECTION AND INVESTIGATION
Finding new assets connected to your network is critical to maintaining your system’s integrity.
In some cases, real-time OT inventory software will detect new assets expected to be on the network. However, in the event the assets are not, an automated discovery tool can be your saving grace by providing real-time detection of all unapproved assets.
Automated real-time asset detection and investigation lets you you detect an unwanted or a malicious asset connected to your network, so you can respond and start remediation immediately.
That means catching an issue more quickly before it becomes a critical or even life-threatening event.
FINDS UNAUTHORIZED DEVICES
Many OT systems utilize network segmentation to minimize risk and protect their assets from attacks.
However, the issue with network segmentation is that without some auditing body, it’s relatively easy for someone to plug something into the wrong network or bridge segmented networks. This often is done mistakenly, not on purpose or maliciously, but simply because the individual didn’t know any better.
With an automated asset discovery software tool, OT asset owners can protect themselves from incorrectly networked devices through discovering the assets and the networks they are plugged into. With this enhanced real-time visibility, owners can quickly remediate these issues.
These are just some of the benefits of using real-time automated operational technology inventory tools at your organization. Once deployed, you’ll immediately see improved accuracy, reduced employee time, transparency through audit trails, quicker detection of threats and an easier ways to locate devices. This all results to improved OT and network security.
For more information, contact me.