Network based systems

3 keys to securing and managing an industrial network

Industry 4.0 initiatives require a laser focus on industrial IT infrastructure as a foundation. Your operations technology (OT) and IT teams face challenges in designing, maintaining and securing your industrial assets.

We have identified three key ingredients for their success:

  • Full visibility into all connection points between devices and infrastructure, so your OT staff can confidently manage the access layer of the network.
  • The ability to map and manage all traffic patterns between these devices, so you can identify and address vulnerabilities and security threats.
  • A way to bring all this information together, along with other system status information to fill gaps, all on a single pane of glass, so you can master data, anticipate problems, and achieve the productivity you have aiming.

Let’s take a look at each key ingredient.


Complete visibility into all connected points on the industrial network can be achieved using tools such as Cisco Industrial Network Director (IND). The IND non-intrusively scans the entire industrial network and then generates topology maps that reveal the interconnectedness of the network infrastructure and its endpoints. IND features an intuitive, easy-to-use graphical interface for zero-touch management, configuration, and commissioning of Cisco Industrial Ethernet and Allen-Bradley Stratix switches, eliminating the need for CLI knowledge . This means that your OT staff can manage the access layer of the network closest to the equipment for which they are responsible, freeing their IT counterparts from involvement in routine OT network tasks, such as adds, moves and changes. With IND, your OT team can also have the confidence and ability to undertake the replacement of unmanaged switches, which are prevalent in legacy OT environments, to achieve better network visibility, performance and reliability.

Mapping and traffic management

OT security, network visibility, operational insights, and threat detection are must-haves. An example of a platform that can provide a powerful range of cybersecurity features to protect your OT network from security threats is Cisco Cybervision. While the IND discovers and visualizes the connectivity of your industrial network devices, Cyber ​​Vision maps and visualizes the traffic patterns between these devices (including processing native OT protocols). System baselines define normal network behavior and configuration, and when a deviation occurs, alerts are generated immediately, enabling rapid mitigation of potential threats. Cyber ​​Vision enables OT personnel to group assets, providing the basis for OT network segmentation. It also shares industrial asset context with other Cisco security solutions, giving your IT team visibility into the OT environment. Cyber ​​Vision provides insights into your OT security posture, risk scoring, device vulnerabilities, signature-based intrusion detection systems, and operational activities such as configuration changes and system events control. Cyber ​​Vision deep packet inspection sensors are integrated into Cisco switches, routers and other network elements compatible with industrial computers, reducing the total cost of ownership.

Data consolidation

Effectively displaying network health and health data is essential for timely analysis and action. A platform that delivers the vital signs of critical industrial infrastructure, endpoints, and applications with intuitive, visual dashboards, all on a single pane of glass is Vitals OT Frontedge. IND and Cyber ​​Vision have specific targets on the network itself, but there is so much more to the industrial computing and control system environment to watch out for. OT Vitals fills in the gaps. Using IND’s device inventory as a starting point, OT Vitals provides an array of infrastructure and endpoint health metrics, including viewing vulnerabilities and cyber risk scoring. Vision. If thresholds are crossed or critical diagnostic events are detected, alerts are pushed to Webex Teams, allowing your OT and IT staff to collaborate quickly and efficiently. They can even send comments and thanks to OT Vitals. OT Vitals also allows the integration of custom data sources for unique customer applications and devices.

System integrators can play a vital role in helping customers secure and manage their industrial networks. Their plan should include: a preliminary asset visibility study; an industrial network advisory report identifying connected devices, security issues and risks; a remediation plan; and provisioning of converged IT/OT infrastructure solutions. The role of the integrator is to help establish a solid foundation for your IoT devices and control system so that you can then realize the full value of your investment through digital initiatives that drive business results.

Daniel C. Malyszko is Director of Operations and Head of Digital Transformation at Malisco Engineering Inc.certified member of theAssociation of Control Systems Integrators(AMSC). For more information on Malisko Engineering, visit their profile on theIndustrial Automation Scholarship.

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