Strong Endpoint Security is Critical for Industrial Environments

Brett Kreykes | April 16, 2024

Endpoint security is a fundamental layer of defense in any overall cybersecurity strategy, and it’s crucial for manufacturers to understand the current threat landscape. In February, Dragos, Inc., published its sixth-annual OT Cybersecurity Year in Review. The report highlighted new threat groups and emphasized ransomware as the most frequently reported cyber threat in industrial sectors, with incidents up nearly 50%1. Overall, 2023 revealed the increasing sophistication of government-linked cyber groups, the exploitation of specific security vulnerabilities by hacktivists, and a surge in ransomware attacks targeting manufacturers.

Encouragingly, 2023 also saw more collaboration among vendors, systems integrators, and clients, fostering a more risk-based response to cybersecurity threats. This, along with implementing defense-in-depth principles, greatly enhances an organization’s cybersecurity posture. When it comes to securing an IT/OT environment, every layer, including endpoints, must be considered to protect valuable data and information.

Frontline Defense

As a frontline defense for industrial manufacturing facilities, endpoint security safeguards the myriad devices connected to an organization’s network. These endpoints, ranging from laptops and mobile devices to more specialized equipment like programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and human-machine interfaces (HMIs), are all potential entry points for cyber threats. A breach at any of these endpoints could lead to severe disruptions in production, loss of sensitive data, and significant financial and reputational damage.

Securing OT environments can be complicated because of the unique challenges at each plant, including integrated legacy systems, the need for uninterrupted production uptime, and the specialized nature of industrial controls. This level of complexity often leaves manufacturers and control systems engineers overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin in their cybersecurity efforts, but partnering with an experienced OT cybersecurity expert like Interstates can help you find a way forward. We focus on creating a well-rounded approach to endpoint security, applying our proven understanding of IT and controls technologies to ensure your critical OT systems are protected without compromising production uptime.

Creating a Security Plan

If you plan on doing this yourself or are working with a partner to create a robust endpoint security plan, be sure to include these key components:

  • Assessment: Identify and prioritize critical assets within the network while establishing clear communication channels to raise awareness about endpoint security among stakeholders.
  • Design: Implement automated least privilege enforcement to control access and conduct thorough risk assessments to mitigate identified risks effectively.
  • Implementation: Develop comprehensive allow/deny/restrict lists for endpoint devices and define a clear security posture outlining policies, procedures, and guidelines for maintaining a secure environment.
  • Management: Implement centralized management solutions to streamline the administration and enforcement of security policies across all endpoint devices.

Strong endpoint security should offer scalability, cost efficiency, and access to global threat intelligence, significantly reducing the operational risks associated with cybersecurity threats. Manufacturers who take these crucial steps will benefit from reduced troubleshooting times, quick resolution of issues, and the prevention of network and server disruptions, allowing them to focus on their core operational activities.

As cyber threats evolve and increase, the need for comprehensive endpoint security in industrial manufacturing has never been more critical. Interstates is passionate about helping manufacturers develop and implement robust security plans that protect their operations from threats, ensuring a more secure future for their business and the broader manufacturing sector. By leveraging Interstates’ expertise, manufacturers can proactively safeguard their operations and contribute to a more resilient future for the industrial manufacturing landscape.