LAS VEGAS: The threat of malware has become so pernicious for nuclear firms that they are taking radical steps to quarantine mission-critical systems – and IT security vendors suggest firms in other sectors follow their lead.
Speaking at the McAfee Focus user conference, security professionals with Westinghouse, Emerson and McAfee said the best way to maintain security was to introduce techniques such as the use of one-way connections with control systems and the categorisation of different security zones.
The security of infrastructure systems has become a growing concern in recent years as attackers have increasingly looked to disrupt entire regions by crippling network-connected devices which control public utilities and infrastructure.
"When you say security, you mainly mean confidentiality of data," said Lior Frenkell, chief executive of network security firm Waterfall.
"When you move to industrial control and you say security you mean system reliability, which is a totally different point of view and requires in many situations a totally different approach."
As these new control systems have been introduced in nuclear power facilities, the companies are finding an interest in other areas as well.
"Our real motivation is power plant reliability, but we are also finding that water customers are expressing interest in this," said Gary Woodward, director of product marketing and business development for Emerson.
"People are starting to take security much more seriously and getting interested in that."
The companies are also learning strategic lessons which can translate into the larger enterprise security sector.
Eric Knapp, director of critical infrastructure at McAfee, noted that firms who are simply looking for APTs and malware run the risk of overlooking other sources of possible breaches and data loss.
"Instead of saying 'there is no silver bullet', I say 'not every threat is a werewolf'," Knapp said. "You can cause a lot of damage without using any malware at all."
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