Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

The security implications of convergence in manufacturing

The CISO collective by Fortinet

Published: Jun 29, 2022 06:28:21 PM IST
Updated: Jun 29, 2022 10:56:34 PM IST

The security implications of convergence in manufacturingAtanu Kumar Pramanic, Joint President & Chief Information Officer at HINDALCO

In critical infrastructure and production environments, availability has always been a higher priority than cybersecurity. But the emergence and growth of IT applications that analyze and manage real-time industrial environments have led to the convergence of OT and IT networks. This convergence exposes OT to the same cybersecurity threats that IT has dealt with for decades. We spoke with Atanu Kumar Pramanic, Joint President & Chief Information Officer at HINDALCO on how he has gone about protecting their business.

As a global conglomerate, how have you prepared your business to face and respond to security incidents?

Considering the driving force of any business is accessing and sharing data across the organization, it is crucial that we determine ways to enhance our security. Cybercriminals are developing attacks more quickly and using advance persistent cybercrime strategies that are more destructive and unpredictable. We have primarily assessed our network security gaps based on CIS framework which is a globally recognized best practice for securing IT systems and data. Based on this assessment we have arrived at a framework that has been implemented to go with our business requirements.

What are you seeing in your industry and how does the threat landscape differ when compared to other sectors?

Innovation and digital transformation is impacting security across the manufacturing vertical. However, we are uniquely challenged as we must manage and protect legacy hardware and software while securing the cyber-physical space. With the surge of Industry 4.0, Industrial processes and machines are becoming smarter and more modular with automation and data exchange that include the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). These smart, always-connected devices provide real-time contextual information with low overhead to optimize processes and improve how companies and individuals interact and work. It's a new world, and manufacturing businesses that learn how to securely operate in this new environment have no limits on what's possible. However, that can only happen if they take the same digital acceleration principles they are using for their network and apply them to security. Automatically segmenting and monitoring IoT devices, maintaining zero trust policies for accessing the network or applications, or consistently enforcing policies for applications and workflows that flow across and between multiple clouds and physical network environments require network and security to work together as a unified solution.

The security implications of convergence in manufacturing

What strategies, tools, and techniques should businesses rely on to respond to growing threats?

From IT Security incident management perspective, there are five universal principles - Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond and Recover. Any tool or technique that one might deploy would fall in one of the above 5 categories. One must rate the security exposure on a point basis of 1-12 in risk areas like Data, End Points, Mails & Messaging, IT-OT, Cloud, Applications, Network, Mobile, Identity & Access and the solutions deployed would depend on the high-risk areas that one chooses to secure. With a consistent, real-time, end-to-end security posture, visibility of the entire digital attack surface is ensured and recovery from attacks is swift. This also ensures that your smart devices are protected. But if it does become compromised, a mesh architecture minimizes the impact and reduces the time required to bring your critical systems back into a safe and available state.

What are your top security-related challenges, and how are you planning to solve them in the next 12 months?

Data protection is becoming increasingly challenging and is going to remain a priority in the near future. As a corollary to this, in any industry, storage, availability, governance & sharing of data in a secured manner with proper identity & access control is key to any successful IT Security strategy. The first step in protecting data is ensuring that it is secured from the moment it enters your network to the moment it leaves. This includes applying security measures and policies that can seamlessly identify, follow, and secure data as it moves between network domains and devices, including across multi-cloud, as well as across the extended network. As users continue to work-from-anywhere and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices flood networks and operational environments, continuous verification of all users and devices is crucial as they access corporate network resources, especially data.

Combating cyberthreats requires integrated Mesh Architecture. How have you integrated your Security architecture?

Today, security needs to be everywhere, at every edge, following every user, and tracking and securing every application and workflow end-to-end—especially as they move across and between different network environments. Fortinet’s next generation firewalls are protecting our data flow & access across applications, locations and data centres, making us more secured and robust from any unforeseen events. FortiGate NGFW delivers securitydriven networking which converges networking and security across the entire connected environment and provides protection whether on-premises, virtual or cloud-based environments for any device, application, or location. We are able to build flexible policies to allow one or many categories as well as implement stringent network security controls that can allow or block up to the channel level. With unprecedented SSL inspection performance, the platform detects threats hidden in encrypted paths and offers automated threat protection with the least performance degradation. Fortinet’s solution provide secure access to cloud and ensure application availability and performance. A common threat intelligence feed from FortiGuard, which uses AI collects, analyzes, and classifies threats at machine speed with an extremely high degree of accuracy to write signatures for new malware in real time. A security-driven networking approach enables our organisation to move away from siloed IT environments and it allows us to integrate networking and security under a consolidated and unified IT infrastructure.

It's a new world, and manufacturing businesses that learn how to securely operate in this new environment have no limits on what's possible. However, that can only happen if they take the same digital acceleration principles they are using for their network and apply them to security.

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