Blog posts by Graham Williamson


CrashOverRide or the Need for Putting OT Security at the Center of Attention

One of the deplorable components of the Russian aggression toward Ukraine has been resumption of cyber-attacks on the electrical grid. This has highlighted the vulnerability of the electrical distribution network to this kind of attack. The Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine disclosed that a Russian hacking group has recently attacked the grid’s industrial control systems. The attack methodology is commonly called CrashOverRide or Industroyer. It is targeted at industrial control systems, specifically electrical grids. It is configured to use fieldbus protocols for...


Cybersecurity is in Crisis

Intel Security recently released an in-depth survey of the cybersecurity industry, looking at causal agents of the low availability of people with training and professional accreditation in computer security. The global report titled “Hacking the Skills Shortage” concludes: “The cybersecurity workforce shortfall remains a critical vulnerability for companies and nations”. Most respondents to the survey considered the ‘cybersecurity skills gap’ as having a negative effect on their company, three quarters felt that government were not investing...


Comment: Know and Serve Your Customer

‘Know your customer’ started as an anti-money laundering (AML) initiative in the financial industry. Regulators insisted that banks establish a customer ‘due-diligence’ processes to ensure that all bank accounts could be traced back to the entities that owned them. The intent was to make it difficult to establish a business to re-purpose money from illegal activity via a legitimate commercial activity. But while they focus on AML regulation, banks often miss the opportunity to know, and serve, their customers. Increasingly businesses are realizing that the...


Stack creep - from the network layer to the application layer

Last year saw an unprecedented interest in protection of corporate data. With several high-profile losses of intellectual property organisations have started looking for a better way. For the past 30 years the bastion against data loss has been network devices. We have relied on routers, switches and firewalls to protect our classified data and ensure it’s not accessed by un-authorised persons. Databases were housed on protected sub-nets to which we could restrict access on the basis of IP address, a Kerberos ticket or AD group membership. But there are a couple of reasons that...


IoT in industrial computer systems (ICS)

IoT, the Internet of Things, covers a wide range of technologies. My Fitbit e.g. is an IoT device, it connects to my smartphone which formats the data collected on my movements. Also, vehicles that communicate with diagnostic instruments and my home thermostat that I can control via the Internet are IoT gadgets. This article, however, is concerned with a very particular type of IoT device: a sensor or actuator that is used in an industrial computer system (ICS). There are many changes occurring in the Industrial computer sector; the term Industry 4.0 has been coined as a term to...


Adaptive Policy-based Access Management (APAM)

Attribute-based Access Control (ABAC ) has been with us for many years; it embodies a wide range of systems that control access to protected resources based on attributes of the requesting party. As the field has developed there are three characteristics that are most desirable in an ABAC system: it should externalise decision making i.e. not require applications to maintain their own access control logic it should be adaptive i.e. decisions are made in real-time it should be policy-based i.e. access permissions should be determined based on after evaluation of policies it...


OT, ICS, SCADA – What’s the difference?

Operational Technology (OT) refers to computing systems that are used to manage industrial operations as opposed to administrative operations. Operational systems include production line management, mining operations control, oil & gas monitoring etc. Industrial control systems (ICS) is a major segment within the operational technology sector. It comprises systems that are used to monitor and control industrial processes. This could be mine site conveyor belts, oil refinery cracking towers, power consumption on electricity grids or alarms from building information systems. ICSs...


So what do we mean by “Internet of Things” and what do we need to get right?

The phase “Internet of Things” (IoT) was coined to describe the wide range of devices coming on the market with an interface that allows them to be connected to another device or network. There is no question that the explosion in the number of such devices is soon going to change our lives for ever. We are going to be monitoring more, controlling more and communicating more. The recent FTC Staff report indicates there will be 25 billion devices attached to networks this year and 50 billion in 5 years’ time. It’s generally agreed that there are several...

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