Securing Plant and Factory Operations
Until recently, plant and factory operations have been a world apart from those typically served by enterprise IT. Different applications, different networks, and process controllers and other hardware set industrial control systems apart from mainstream systems in finance, product management, HR, and other divisions.
This is no longer the case. Today’s plant floor is increasingly integrated with enterprise applications and networks – no longer is there an air gap between the enterprise network and proprietary protocols of industrial controllers, for instance – and more and more industrial controllers are sending data directly to enterprise ERP and other applications.
This has opened a significant security vulnerability for industrial control systems (ICS).
For enterprise IT, the security focus is typically on preventing loss of data, misuse of information, and access to applications that provided competitive advantage. In industrial control, a security breach can compromise manufacturing processes. It can impact everything from product quality to production volume, and can cause a loss of equipment, environmental damage, and even personal injury.
Not only has the plant-floor air gap disappeared, but, thanks to increases in mobile workers, supply chain partners and remote technical support specialists, more people than ever before are gaining access to enterprise systems, and to the related industrial control systems.
Adding these users poses a major, growing risk to industrial control systems: according to a recent U.S. Department of Energy study, eight of today’s top-ten ICS vulnerabilities involve threats to identity assurance and access control, such as credentials thefts and remote-access weaknesses.
M4S addresses the risks of integration from the back office to the factory floor. It provides the identity assurance required for mobile workers, supply chain partners and technical support staff who need access both to corporate business systems and to the industrial control systems end-point controllers.
The unique M4S Secure-Sync channel provides an unbroken chain of trust for access to Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Distributed Control Systems. No other solution can close this security loop from the upstream systems to the endpoint controllers.
The M4S Personal Smart Key supports Zigbee communications protocols to make access to plant-floor controllers secure, convenient and easy. And M4S bundles other features needed for secure access and user convenience, ranging from Single Sign On and Virtual Desktop Interface to secure portable storage of sensitive information. M4S underpins all its features with strong authentication and access logging necessary to provide repudiation proof protection for every transaction.