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Challenges in Securing Legacy OT Systems

April 4, 2024

Legacy OT systems are vulnerable to cyber attacks because they were not designed with security in mind and may lack security by default. These systems are critical in industries such as oil and gas, maritime, and energy, where security is challenging because of outdated equipment, a mismatch between old and new technologies, and a lack of visibility.

It is critical to find a balance between safeguarding infrastructure from cyberattacks and ensuring operational continuity. Here are some common challenges of safeguarding legacy OT systems:

  1. Outdated Systems

Outdated hardware and software jeopardize the security of legacy OT systems, making it difficult to receive security fixes or updates. Integrating legacy systems with new security technology may result in compatibility issues and leave them vulnerable to attacks.

  1. Insecure Communication Protocols

Legacy OT systems may use communication protocols that are not secure by modern standards. These protocols may use insecure encryption methods or may not be encrypted at all. Outdated OT systems frequently fail to authenticate endpoints, allowing for easy unauthorized access to the system.

  1. Lack of Security Awareness 

Many organizations may be unaware of the risks posed by legacy OT systems, or they may lack the expertise required to maintain and protect these systems. Furthermore, the lack of security awareness of its  employees when working with these technologies may jeopardize the company's security.

  1. Poor Encryption 

The absence of encryption capabilities in many legacy OT systems makes them vulnerable to cyber attacks. Because of the systems' unique design and the risk of system interruptions during the deployment process, implementing encryption for these systems may be difficult. Additionally, outdated OT systems may use obsolete encryption techniques that aren't compliant with current security standards. As a result, these systems may be vulnerable to attacks that use modern and sophisticated encryption-cracking methods, which leads to a false impression of security.

  1. Proprietary Protocols 

Connecting legacy OT systems to modern security solutions is difficult because these systems typically use proprietary protocols, making it difficult to implement security measures and impossible for firms to upgrade their outdated OT systems without investing heavily in new hardware and software. Using devices that support a number of protocols frequently results in an increased attack surface.

  1. Integration Difficulties 

Legacy OT systems are challenging to combine with current security solutions due to their complex design and proprietary protocols. These systems do not need to be integrated with other systems to function properly. As a result, integrating legacy OT systems with new security solutions can be challenging and costly.

  1. Lack of Visibility 

Legacy OT systems may not provide the necessary visibility to detect and respond to cyber threats. These systems were designed to operate in an isolated environment, without need for regular monitoring or remote access. As a result, legacy OT systems may not have adequate logging and monitoring capabilities to detect cyber threats.

Safeguarding legacy OT systems is complex. To prevent cyberattacks that could cause significant operational and financial disruption, organizations must be proactive in identifying and addressing their OT system vulnerabilities. MicroSec’s solutions assist in 24/7 monitoring to detect anomalies in OT devices and networks to prevent zero-day attacks. 

Source: https://cyberprism.net/challenges-in-securing-legacy-ot-systems/

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