Special endpoint security: discussion on security of industrial control computer (ICS)

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Special endpoint security: discussion on security of industrial control computer (ICS)

The industrial control computer (ICS) is connected with the bench. It is a critical tool for profiting for an enterprise and is an important interface between the operator and bench. Even in the artificial intelligence and Industry 4.0 environment, the ICS is a data creator and the key to creating maximum profits and increasing the yield of the overall production line via collected data. Of course, the ICS also plays the role of endpoint device. The data security news event of Company T indicates the problem of data security risk of the ICS endpoint and this is worth being discussed by us. Pictures cannot be taken from many plant sites and the real picture cannot be obtained from the data security industry (Note: the data security control processes are correlated with system network architecture and we must not consider the situation from an endpoint perspective). Therefore, in this paper we will depict widespread problems found currently from a discussion perspective.

We will share known risks by directly introducing the ICS endpoint and system structure:

  1. The OS of the ICS bench is old: each bench was purchased at a high price. However, the original manufacturer provided upgrade services and the expenses for upgrade would be very high once the number of benches is huge. In the actual situation, old benches have a good status and upgrade is not a preference of each manufacturer. Replacement in great quantity is not a good solution.
  2. Parameters bound with relevant bench software and whether the software is compatible with the new operating system need to be debugged once again. For example, the software function of the old bench cannot be migrated to the new operating system environment and this causes overall operation to be trapped in another risk of operational profiting.
  3. The anti-virus and anti-hacking mechanism is old and bugs would co-exist with the old operating system for a long time. The operating system for which the update service is expired is facing new attacks and destructions in addition to old bugs.
  4. The equipment engineer and information department are cognizing the structured problem of information security. The equipment engineer has insufficient cognition of the information security in the IT world, while the information department does not dare to easily touch and adjust the bench because relevant measures cause the production line to be interrupted and this is the irretrievable operational risk.
  5. The ICS and SCADA preset account number and password are almost not changed. Larger factories have more apparatuses. Such problem is more severe. The preset account number and password are unexpectedly not changed, then the situation of the described industrial network will be more poor!?
  6. Industry 4.0 or industrial connection and connection of the bench to the Internet make the Internet an important channel for spreading of malicious programs. If the AI factory is expanded or the factory is shut down, data security factors that need to be considered will be more complex.
  7. Attack procedures for specific bench  are more difficult to defend. The malicious programs targeted at ICS or SCADA cause the depth of the defense to be increased and the difficulty in handling to be higher.
  8. The future risks of equipment process and current artificial intelligence must be predicted. Interruption, yield decrease and counterfeiting of jamming signals for interference with the operation of the bench are potential nightmares to each manufacturer.

The above mentioned risks cannot be described in detail one by one because all manufacturers differ from each other in terms of human resource qualifications, production line architecture, bench attribute and network architecture. The new factory can implement preventive measures at the beginning of design and meet the need for modernized data security defense and we should figure out whether there are better solutions for old manufacturers!!

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