What is the role of incident response in ICS security?

What is the role of incident response in ICS security?

In recent years, cyber espionage has been growing in magnitude and complexity. One of the most common objectives are Industrial Control Systems (ICS) within critical infrastructure sectors.

As many organizations rely more heavily on ICS networks, there has been an increase in cyber threats and attacks targeting these systems. These attacks not only have an economic impact, but also put national security at risk. To make matters worse, there are no network security guidelines or best practices for ICS systems.

This requires a solution that ensures that companies take the appropriate measures in an emergency. How important is the need for Incident Response (IR), especially in ics security?

What are Industrial Control Systems (ICS)?

Industrial control systems are computer systems that monitor and regulate the operation of manufacturing and processing plants. They are often used in large businesses such as power plants, oil refineries, chemical plants, and other manufacturing facilities. To clarify, not all industrial systems are part of a large government enterprise. Something as simple as a sugar refinery will use ICS to regulate its operations. Although still part of critical infrastructure, a sugar refinery, like many other manufacturing entities, is often overlooked as a host for ICS. Since these control systems are important to the functionality of a plant, as well as the performance of that plant, it is imperative to ensure that they are secure.

How does incident response affect ICS security?

Incident response is the process of addressing and evaluating an event or potential event to limit its scope, contain its damage, identify affected systems, and learn how the problem occurred. The ability to react quickly and efficiently in the event of a cyber attack is critical for any organization.

Incident response is quite different from general IT security in that it plays a more practical role, such as assessing the scene after an attack or containing the damage. Since ICS networks are vulnerable to cyber attacks, the IR process is essential for these systems.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has classified ICS as a subcategory of critical infrastructure, meaning they are subject to the same protections as other critical infrastructure sectors, including the electrical grid and water supply .

ICS security has been a challenge for many organizations due to its critical position in the organization’s security strategy. By implementing a comprehensive IR plan that incorporates a company’s overall risk management program, organizations can protect their ICS networks from potential cybersecurity risks.

Why is incident response necessary for ICS security?

Since the goal of incident response is to quickly identify, stop, and limit attacks and potential damage, this is quite beneficial and necessary for ICS networks. That’s why the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has already developed an incident response process to help protect businesses in a variety of technology fields.

this guide covers a variety of incident response team models, how to choose the optimal model, and how to lead the team effectively. It is actually a cyclical activity that involves four main stages: Preparedness, Detection/Analysis, Containment/Eradication, and Recovery.

This involves monitoring, compiling, and determining the relevance of IT assets, such as network and servers, to identify critical/sensitive assets and prepare for incidents.

Detection includes the collection of data from IT systems, security tools, publicly available information, and people. This also involves predicting whether an incident will occur in the future or has already occurred.

In Analysis, baselines of affected systems are identified and linked to relevant events to determine if they differ from normal behavior.

This is intended to stop and contain attacks before they do significant damage.

After the incident, it is essential to learn and ask important questions. Questions like:

    • What really happened and when did it happen?
    • How was the situation handled?
    • Were procedures followed?
    • Were there serious errors?
    • What could have been done differently?
    • What tools do we need to mitigate similar incidents?
    • How will this be avoided in the future?

According to NIST methodology, this plan is more than just a list of actions, it is actually a roadmap for the company’s incident response program, with short- and long-term goals, indicators of success, training, and job criteria for incident response roles. .

An earlier survey noted that 1 in 10 UK businesses lack an incident response plan. The IR plan should include an outline of goals and objectives, define and group ICS events, create critical roles, responsibilities and procedures, and determine appropriate response actions to safely eliminate and contain the threat.

What needs to be done to develop a healthy incident response program?

There is a wide range of healthy practices when it comes to successfully implementing an incident response program:

1. Develop and maintain an IR plan.

An IR plan can help organizations respond to incidents by providing a set of guidelines on how to react based on type and severity. Incident response plans are intended to be used as a guide and should be tailored to an organization’s needs, threats, vulnerabilities, and resources. This includes identifying the scope of the problem, such as identifying the affected area, reviewing log files for suspicious activity, and determining whether or not there is an active attack.

two. Create and train an incident response team (IRT).

Incident response teams are responsible for analyzing the situation, mitigating any risks, and ensuring that the system continues to function as it should. Team members must receive training on their role in the IRT.

3. Be clear about expectations

Assign roles and responsibilities to team members, including secondary points of contact and various levels of escalation within the organization hierarchy.

Also ensure that anyone else outside the IRT who may be involved is trained in their specific duties and has clear instructions on what to do in the event of an incident.

Industrial control systems are everywhere, from the largest water dams, treatment plants, and power grids, to the humble bicycle manufacturing facility. As these systems become more Internet-connected to expand a plant’s capabilities, it becomes more important than ever to develop and maintain an incident response plan to control risk from these systems.


About the Author: John Iwuozor is an experienced content writer in the cybersecurity niche. He loves breaking down complex technical work into easy-to-understand articles.

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Publisher’s note: The views expressed in this guest post are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.

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