Safeguarding OT Companies: The Crucial Role of Firewall Auditing

August 2, 2023
firewall auditing


In today’s interconnected world, Operational Technology (OT) companies play a vital role in powering critical infrastructures like energy, manufacturing, and transportation. However, with the increasing digitalization of these sectors comes the heightened risk of cyber attacks that could have catastrophic consequences. One of the most effective strategies to thwart such attacks is regular firewall auditing. In this blog, we’ll delve into four real cases where firewall auditing could have prevented cyber attacks on OT companies, emphasizing the paramount importance of this practice.


1. Case: Ukrainian Power Grid Attack (2015 and 2016)

In 2015 and 2016, Ukraine experienced two separate cyber attacks on its power grid, causing widespread blackouts. The attackers gained access through spear-phishing emails and then moved laterally within the network, eventually manipulating control systems to disrupt power distribution. Properly configured firewalls and vigilant auditing could have detected unauthorized access and unusual traffic patterns, limiting the attackers’ ability to navigate within the network.

Ukrainian Power Grid Attack

Prevention through Firewall Auditing: Regular firewall audits would have identified unusual behavior indicative of an intrusion, enabling swift action to contain the breach before control systems were compromised.


2. Case: Triton Malware Incident (2017)

The Triton malware attack targeted a petrochemical plant’s safety systems, highlighting the potential impact of cyber attacks on industrial safety. The attackers gained access through a spear-phishing attack and manipulated the safety instrumented system. A thorough firewall audit could have revealed unauthorized access attempts and unusual communication patterns, preventing the malware’s spread within the OT network.


Prevention through Firewall Auditing: Regular auditing would have highlighted abnormal communication patterns between safety systems and external entities, triggering immediate investigation and stopping the attack in its tracks.


3. Case: Stuxnet Worm (2010)

The Stuxnet worm is a prime example of a highly sophisticated cyber weapon that targeted Iran’s nuclear facilities. It exploited vulnerabilities in Windows systems to propagate and specifically targeted industrial control systems (ICS). Firewall auditing could have identified unauthorized attempts to manipulate ICS systems, stopping the worm’s activities and potentially preventing physical damage.


Prevention through Firewall Auditing: Regular audits could have flagged unauthorized attempts to access critical control systems, signaling the presence of malicious activity and allowing for prompt countermeasures.


4. Case: German Steel Mill Incident (2014)

A German steel mill suffered significant damage when attackers exploited vulnerabilities in the company’s business network, eventually gaining access to the OT network. This resulted in the failure of a blast furnace, leading to massive financial losses. Effective firewall auditing could have detected unauthorized lateral movement between networks and identified attempts to manipulate critical processes.

German Steel Mill Cyber Attack

Prevention through Firewall Auditing: Regular audits would have identified suspicious activity as it crossed the network boundary, preventing unauthorized access to the OT environment and minimizing the potential for physical damage.


Conclusion: Protecting the Heartbeat of Critical Infrastructures

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on OT companies to maintain the functioning of essential services, it is imperative to secure these entities grow ever stronger. NP-View plays a crucial role in enhancing firewall auditing processes by providing deep visibility into an organization’s network infrastructure. It allows security teams to comprehensively analyze firewall configurations, rules, and policies, identifying potential vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and access control issues that could compromise network security.


NP-View’s advanced capabilities enable the detection of hidden or shadow rules, redundant rules, and inconsistencies, ensuring that firewalls are optimized for maximum effectiveness. Ultimately, the technology streamlines the firewall auditing process, enhancing overall security posture and reducing the risk of unauthorized access or breaches.


Network Perception

Securing the Connected World