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A New Perspective on Network Security – From the Hackers

A New Perspective on Network Security – From the Hackers

Aug 11 2015

Earlier this month, the Datacom Systems team attended the 18th annual Black Hat Conference, an event that recognizes and studies the latest threats to security in today’s IoT world. From live-hacking to exploring last month’s Jeep Cherokee experiment-gone-awry, the conference gave us an in-depth look at the variety of security solutions and attack vectors that are popular today.

With a rise in these new, sophisticated hacks, events like the Black Hat conference become even more critical to solving today’s security issues. Gathering the leading minds in security (and hacking) is the key to staying ahead of trends in cyber crimes, helping to develop advanced detection tools. While at the conference, we connected with friends – both old and new – who recognize Datacom Systems’ place in the industry. Through event courses and discussions, we collected and shared information to help improve security against an ever-growing list of threats.

One of the threats covered in depth throughout the Conference was hacking into industrial control systems (ICS). These ICS include everything from wastewater treatment plants and power grids to nuclear reactors, and there are strict regulations in place that determine how much downtime on each network is allowed every year. For some ICS infrastructures, it can be as little as five minutes annually – hardly enough time to perform critical network checks and to update or repair security devices.

A recent study highlighted by Computer Weekly indicates that of the 500 critical infrastructure suppliers surveyed in North and South America, “53% of the respondents noticed an increase of attacks to their computer systems in 2014, and 76% stated that cyber attacks against infrastructure are getting more sophisticated.”

Similar to issues that arise with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) networks, ICS are often running on old technology – and on dangerously predictable schedules. In addition to implementing a solid architecture to thoroughly monitor the network, ICS should take advantage of professionals experienced in ‘black hat’ tactics, constantly searching for unprotected access points and vulnerabilities. These strategies complement network monitoring and can help make the most out of limited system downtimes.

This year’s Black Hat Conference was buzzing with all of the latest technologies for cyber attack detection, yet one of the best strategies for maintaining a secure network is a proactive one. Establishing a solid network architecture from the start, and implementing a combination of network taps and aggregation devices that enables full network visibility, is critical to early threat detection and prevention. To discuss a custom solution for your network security, contact our engineering team.