What is cyber security and how does it work?

Here you can discover key facts about the safety of your network.

To protect yourself against cyber threats, it is important to be able to detect and understand them. Due to the complexity of the topic, that is not always that easy. That is why we have collected and clarified the most important facts for you.

Cyber security is understood to mean all technologies and measures that protect networked systems from unauthorized access or malware. This does not only affect the traditional office-based network, but also increasingly impacts upon networked machines, systems, and equipment.

Essentially, cyber attacks can be targeted at companies and infrastructure systems (e.g., power generation, water treatment plants, but also at governments, hospitals, the military or even private individuals). Cyber security is therefore oriented at all these institutions and target groups.

A cyber attack is understood to imply an active attack on a network, that aims to manipulate the functions of the network participants, gain unauthorized access, make changes to the network or take it completely out of operation. Frequently, these attacks are triggered by means of malware.

Malware, also know as malicious software, is a generic term for computer programs that have unwanted and potentially also destructive effects on computer systems or networks. Malware consists of viruses, worms, trojans, bots, spyware, and other malicious types of harmful software and can appear in different formats, such as executable codes or files.

Cyber attacks result in economic damage totaling billions every year, due to the theft of trade secrets, internal company information, and personal data as well as malfunctions and faults to infrastructure. Increased networking makes us more and more susceptible to these cyber attacks.

For a long time now, malicious attacks have not simply been targeted at office IT systems. Quite the opposite, in fact. Attacks on critical infrastructures, machines, and systems are increasing each year. Any controller that is connected to the Internet can also be attacked via the Internet. Employees unwittingly loading malware can quickly result in errors. To prevent serious loss of stored data and expensive system downtimes, it is therefore particularly important that industry protects itself against attacks and engages with cyber security.

Cyber security is based on three core principles:

  • Trust: confidential information is only accessed by the appropriate circle of people.
  • Integrity: information cannot be altered.
  • Availability: information must be available to the defined circle of people.

To achieve these goals, there are various options. To begin with, there are supposedly simple principles such as password protection or physical access controls via security technologies, e.g., firewalls and encryption, right through to complex network architectures, that shield and segment individual network areas.

The most important steps for secure production are to create awareness of security threats and to promote the skills to be able to detect these. The easiest way of creating such an understanding is to provide training. That's because, even if a security expert is already in place, the understanding of each individual employee varies. This is the only way that unwitting dangers can be prevented, such as the use of private storage media or careless handling of passwords. With this in mind, Phoenix Contact offers you various awareness training sessions, in which these topics are discussed and worked upon as a whole.

A secure network concept should be developed in a second step. This should include not only secure network architecture, but also corresponding security technology in the sense of secure hardware, firmware, and software. Even simple configuration options on a Managed Switch can contribute to operational reliability and significantly increase system availability. Port security prevents, for example, unwanted participants exchanging data with the network. Access control stops unauthorized configuration of the switches in combination with passwords. Free ports can also be turned off, while unauthorized access to the network is registered, and the user can be alerted via SNMP and signal contact. The whole network can ultimately be subdivided into logical networks, whose limits cannot be overcome without authorization.

For even deeper protection, Phoenix Contact also offers industrial security appliances. A remote maintenance connection can be easily and securely established via a VPN connection and IPsec protocol. A stateful inspection firewall and the deep packet inspection also monitor all incoming and outgoing data packets based on predefined rules. Via the CIFS Integrity Monitoring, file systems can also be monitored for unexpected changes and malware can thus be detected. In contrast to a conventional virus scanner, no software needs to be opened on the computer, meaning this is hardly exposed to any load and the real-time properties are not negatively impacted. A regular update of virus patterns is therefore not required.

We will not leave you alone when it comes to planning this, either. Thanks to our range of different services, we can help you from the planning stage, right through to the implementation, maintenance, and product training as regards to managing a secure industrial network.

Basically, there is no one ground rule, directive or standard that prescribes exactly how cyber security must be implemented in industry. Despite that, there are many documents that are relevant to some areas of cyber security.

On a national level, there are an increasing number of standards relating to the protection of critical infrastructures, such as power and water supply, hospitals, transport and travel, etc.. In addition to national standards, however, ever more international security regulations and institutions are finding their way into industry:

  • ISA99, Industrial Automation and Control Systems Security
  • IEC 62443 Industrial communication networks – Network and system security
  • ETSI Cyber Security Technical Comitee (TC Cyber)
  • ISO 27000 series, ISO 15408
  • ISF Standard of Good Practice
  • Etc.

Phoenix Contact UAB

Svitrigailos str. 11B
03228 Vilnius
+370 5 210 6321

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