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Easter Eggs Don’t Belong in Your OT Environment

March 27, 2024

This Easter weekend, across the United States, kids will have a blast looking for Easter eggs hidden in backyards and parks. These eggs might be filled with candy, money, or other fun surprises. You don’t know what you're going to get until you open them.

But there's a place where surprises like this aren't fun at all: your OT environment. In the world of Operational Technology, where everything needs to run smoothly and safely, you really don’t want any hidden surprises. Every OT asset should be accounted for in your inventory, not hidden or difficult to locate.

However, OT asset inventories can sometimes fall short. They may become outdated or fail to capture every asset accurately. It's not uncommon for these inventories to lack information on software versions, security configurations, or undocumented/unapproved changes.

Automating your OT asset management is a solution to these challenges. It's essential to have a comprehensive understanding of what's in your environment to secure it effectively. Manual management is not only resource-intensive but also prone to errors and becoming outdated. An OT Asset Management platform can automate the inventory process and provide detailed insights, such as software versions, vulnerabilities, configuration details, open ports, and services.

This asset data is crucial to managing your plant floor’s control systems (ICS, SCADA, PLCs, etc.). These systems are the backbone of operational processes, and unauthorized or unnoticed changes can have direct and critical impacts on operational safety and efficiency. Ensuring that every modification is documented and vetted is vital for maintaining system integrity and operational continuity.

In addition to ensuring proper OT asset management of Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and control systems, these are other issues that can come to light with proper visibility across the environment. These are real-world “Easter” eggs that Industrial Defender has helped operators discover:

  • Crypto Mining Software on Critical Servers: An unexpected find that emphasizes the importance of knowing not just which devices you have, but what software they're running.
  • Unapproved Configuration Changes for Personal Remote Access: A breach of policy that went undetected, underlining the necessity to monitor configurations and ensure they adhere to security policies.
  • Unauthorized Outbound Server Communications with Vendor’s Update Infrastructure: Even legitimate communications can be concerning if they're unexpected, underscoring the need to control updates in the OT environment to prevent operational disruptions. The additional concern here is around software updates. You want to make sure you can validate the updates won’t cause any problems.
  • Active Logins for Ex-employees: This reveals the importance of deep asset data for monitoring access and ensuring it's restricted to authorized users only.
  • Unauthorized Video Game Software on OT Workstations: While seemingly harmless, inappropriate software on operational systems can introduce vulnerabilities, highlighting the need for thorough system assessments and policy enforcement.

Let's leave the Easter egg surprises for the egg hunts. When it comes to your OT environment, knowing everything about your systems is key to keeping things running safely and smoothly. A solid OT asset management system can give you and your team the up-to-date, detailed information you need to protect your operations.

Learn more about OT asset management here: