Author: Andrew Burton

Security of Industrial Control Systems

A post by Professor Chris Hankin, Director ISST

Operational Technology (OT), as distinct from Information Technology (IT), refers to the hardware and software that controls an industrial process.  Despite increasing similarities between OT and IT architectures and components there are quite fundamental differences in the make-up of cyber attacks on each.  In To Kill a Centrifuge, an in-depth technical analysis of the Stuxnet attack, Ralph Langner has already identified three distinct layers of a sophisticated cyber-physical attack: the IT, the Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and the physical layers.  The SANS Institute in the U.S. has recently published an anatomy of cyber attacks  on ICS, involving two multi-phase stages: 1) cyber intrusion preparation and execution – what can be thought of as intelligence gathering; and 2) ICS attack development and execution.