Manufacturing is at the forefront of technological advancements, leveraging operational technology (OT) to streamline processes and improve productivity. However, this digital transformation comes with its fair share of cybersecurity challenges.

Strengthening Cybersecurity in Manufacturing: The Path to a Defensible Architecture
Strengthening Cybersecurity in Manufacturing: The Path to a Defensible Architecture

Article from | Dragos, Inc.

In our most recent whitepaper, we explore the key cybersecurity challenges faced by manufacturers in the OT sector and delve into the threats they need to defend against. We leverage the SANS Five ICS Cybersecurity Critical Controls as a framework to mitigate these risks, with a particular emphasis on the importance of network segmentation in achieving a defensible architecture. 


Challenges: What Problems Are We Trying to Solve?  

Manufacturers in the OT sector encounter several cybersecurity challenges, including poor network security controls, diversification in connectivity between high technology and legacy systems, a lack of in-house expertise, limited visibility and monitoring, and the high necessity of Interconnectivity between IT and OT systems. These challenges highlight the urgent need for tailored cybersecurity measures in the manufacturing industry. 


Threats: What Are We Defending Against?  

The manufacturing industry faces a multitude of threats, with ransomware attacks posing a significant risk to both IT environments and production operations. Indirect impacts on production, such as disrupting label printers or altering labels, can halt manufacturing processes. Known vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the network, unmonitored remote connections, and flat network topologies also expose the industry to exploitation by adversaries. 


The Five Critical Controls for Cybersecurity in Manufacturing – and the Role of Network Segmentation 

To address these challenges and defend against threats, implementing the SANS Five ICS Cybersecurity Critical Controls is crucial. These controls consist of an ICS Incident Response Plan, a Defensible Architecture, Visibility and Monitoring, Secure Remote Access, and Risk-Based Vulnerability Management. Of these controls, network segmentation plays a pivotal role in achieving a defensible architecture and enhancing visibility and monitoring capabilities.

Download our comprehensive whitepaper for step-by-step visuals describing how to effectively segment manufacturing networks


Benefits of Network Segmentation in Manufacturing 

Network segmentation offers numerous advantages for manufacturers, including enhanced security, protection of critical assets, compliance with regulations, operational continuity, granular access control, and improved network performance. 

  • Enhanced Security: By dividing the network into smaller, isolated segments, manufacturers can implement specific security controls and access permissions for each segment. This approach reduces the attack surface and limits the potential spread of cyber threats. Breaches or compromises occurring in one segment remain contained, preventing the entire network from being affected.
  • Protection of Critical Assets: Segmenting the network allows manufacturers to isolate and protect critical assets such as production systems, intellectual property, sensitive data, and control systems. Even if other parts of the network are compromised, the critical assets remain secure and inaccessible to unauthorized individuals.
  • Operational Continuity: By containing cyber incidents within segmented areas, manufacturers can prevent disruptions in manufacturing operations. If an incident occurs in one segment, it can be isolated and contained, safeguarding the production processes in other segments and ensuring operational continuity.
  • Granular Access Control: Segmentation enables granular access controls, allowing only authorized individuals or devices to access specific network segments. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access, data breaches, and insider threats, enhancing overall security.
  • Improved Network Performance: Segmentation optimizes network performance by segregating traffic and resources into different segments. Manufacturers can prioritize critical applications, allocate bandwidth effectively, and reduce latency, resulting in improved network performance.

Manufacturers must address the cybersecurity challenges they face to protect operations, assets, and data. As cybersecurity in manufacturing continues to evolve, a defensible architecture with network segmentation will be a crucial element in safeguarding the industry against cyber threats. Network segmentation provides a proactive security measure, protecting critical assets, ensuring regulatory compliance, maintaining operational continuity, enabling granular access control, and improving overall network security.  


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow

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