Cybersecurity in critical infrastructures

Cybersecurity in critical infrastructures

Cybersecurity in critical infrastructures 1400 425 Centro de Ciberseguridad Industrial

Welcome to this post about industrial cybersecurity in critical infrastructures.

In an increasingly interconnected world, protecting our critical assets has become an unavoidable priority. From power plants to transportation systems, industrial cybersecurity is critical to ensuring the safe and continued operation of these vital infrastructures. Join us on this journey as we explore advanced methods, effective tools, and best practices to strengthen cybersecurity in industrial environments.

Advanced Methods for Risk Assessment in Critical Infrastructures

Risk assessment is the first and crucial step in any cybersecurity strategy. In the context of critical infrastructure, advanced methods go beyond simple vulnerability analysis. Holistic risk assessment considers not only external threats, but also possible internal failures and potential impacts on operations. Adopting approaches such as threat and vulnerability analysis or process hazard analysis (PHA) provides a more complete view of risks and allows for better allocation of resources for their mitigation.

It is important to differentiate between a threat and a vulnerability; they are terms that are sometimes confused. I invite you to read INCIBE’s post on threat-vs-vulnerability to establish that concept. On the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) website we can find an infographic that summarizes the risk and vulnerability assessment for  2022, with the tactics and techniques used by attackers and mitigation measures that we can use to defend ourselves.

Process risk analysis provides us with a means to systematically review the design and operation of a facility to identify the occurrence of hazardous events with potential consequences. I have managed to publish a short course on PHA on the Internet, it is very good! It explains the basic concepts of a PHA, the system to follow, and illustrates it with an example applied to a chemical process, download it from this link.

RECIN is a platform developed to model industrial automation and digitalization projects of the Industrial Cybersecurity Center

* RECIN is a platform developed to model industrial automation and digitalization projects of the Industrial Cybersecurity Center

Quantitative Analysis vs. Qualitative in Industrial Cybersecurity

The choice between quantitative and qualitative analysis depends largely on the nature and criticality of the infrastructure in question. While qualitative analysis focuses on subjective risk assessment and prioritization based on expertise, quantitative analysis uses tangible data and metrics to calculate the probability and impact of potential incidents. In many cases, a combination of both approaches can provide a more complete understanding of risks and facilitate informed decisions about the allocation of security resources.

Qualitative risk analysis should be performed when there is a change in risk perception or a new risk has been identified. Carrying out a qualitative risk analysis is relatively easy, quick and low-cost; it can be done at any time considered necessary.

Quantitative risk analysis requires that we have a large amount of data about the risk and its impact. Its implementation is usually difficult and requires considerably more time than qualitative analysis.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about how to measure risk in cybersecurity, what benefits and challenges those methods have, and what characteristics make a measurement “good.” This causes organizations to sometimes choose unreliable methods or solutions. I leave you a link to the “CRQ Buyer’s Guide”, it is useful to help you decide if using quantitative risk analysis is a good idea and, if so, how to choose a solution that we can trust.

Continuous Risk Assessment: A Proactive Approach

Cybersecurity is not a static objective, but a continuous process of adaptation and improvement. Continuous risk assessment is critical to keeping up with evolving threats and changes in the operating environment. The implementation of real-time monitoring systems and active participation in threat information exchange networks (ISACs) can help us detect and mitigate new vulnerabilities and attacks proactively, before they cause a significant impact on our infrastructures.

Advanced Tools for Threat Identification

Early threat identification is essential for a rapid and effective response. In this regard, advanced intrusion detection tools such as intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS) and threat intelligence play a crucial role. These technologies use sophisticated algorithms and behavioral analysis to detect malicious activity and anomalies in network traffic, enabling immediate response and mitigation of potential damage.

By clicking on this link you can download a guide on the use and operation of some intrusion detection and prevention systems and event collection systems aimed at control systems. In the last two years, great interest has been aroused in the development and use of Artificial Intelligence in cybersecurity applications, so it is convenient to follow up on these developments.

Best Practices for Risk Management in Industrial Cybersecurity

Effective risk management in industrial cybersecurity is based on a comprehensive approach that covers both technical and organizational aspects. This includes implementing robust security policies, continuously training staff in good security practices, segmenting networks, and enforcing strict access controls. Additionally, collaboration with industry partners and regulatory bodies can provide additional guidance and support in managing risks and improving cybersecurity posture.

In summary, industrial cybersecurity in critical infrastructure is a complex challenge that requires a multidisciplinary and continuous approach. From risk assessment to implementing mitigation measures and incident management, every step is critical to ensuring the integrity and operability of our vital infrastructure. By adopting advanced methods, effective tools and best practices in cybersecurity, we can strengthen our resilience to ever-evolving cyber threats. Let’s not wait to be victims of a cyberattack! Let’s act now to protect what matters most.


Héctor Puyosa

CCI Expert