Updated May 19, 2017
The WannaCry ransomware malware broke onto the world scene on Friday May 12, 2017 when it infected over 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries. Thankfully, the impact on manufacturing systems and critical infrastructure was relatively low. However, while WannaCry’s spread has been curtailed for now, new variants have been reported.
Immediate actions are to determine whether your systems are vulnerable by identifying computers and devices running Windows operating systems not updated with the latest security patches or communicating with the SMB1 protocol. If these situations exist, you need to execute a plan to mitigate and protect against these security weaknesses.
While we can take a deep breath that WannaCry did not shut down essential services such as power systems and water systems, the malware is certainly a very loud wake-up call Let’s look at what can be done immediately, and over time, to prevent and mitigate ransomware infections to industrial systems.
Critical infrastructure cybersecurity is in the spotlight thanks to the new Presidential Executive Order on Cybersecurity. No matter your politics, most would agree that it’s good to see the U.S. government elevating the urgency for critical infrastructure cyber resiliency improvement.
Section 2 of the order calls out the need to improve cyber risk management efforts. If you work for an electric utility or other critical infrastructure operator you should be aware that recent advances in technology can greatly help in this area, and do so in a way that is simple and safe to implement.
Government, industry, system integrators and automation vendors all know that industrial cybersecurity needs to be improved. Yet, all too often both enterprise and industrial networks are still managed without a coherent security strategy. What’s the reason? First and foremost, there is a lack of industrial security expertise in the workforce. Secondly, up to now, technologies have focused on modularized solutions for either the enterprise network or the industrial environment, without paying attention to the integration between the two. The good news is that a new generation of solution helps overcome both the skills shortage and the IT/OT divide.