Network cloaking has become critical to securing operational technology (OT) environments by adding a layer of AI-Resistant Defense in Depth. Here's why:
Generative AI delivers no-code hacking tools to novice hackers through simple prompt requests, with no coding skills needed. These tools drastically reduce the barrier to hacking critical infrastructure. Imagine a teenager who has a bad experience with a brand. To get revenge, I want to attack one of that brand’s manufacturing plants. I know nothing about the plant at all and am not a hacker. So, I ask my AI to find out who the critical network manager is at the plant, study their online profiles and style of writing, and then write targeted phishing emails to their employees to steal credentials. I can also ask the AI to code me some network reconnaissance tools based on the vendors that are used by the company (often available in vendor announcements, public RFP releases, etc) and to determine if any of that equipment has known vulnerabilities. Then, I wait for the phishing to work and use the tools to penetrate the network and see what I can do. This is happening today.
2. Legacy systems are inherently vulnerable
Legacy systems are vital in OT environments, with service lifetimes of tens of years. Unfortunately, these technological remnants from the past, although essential cogs in the ecosystem, are riddled with flaws. A recent report from Sophos highlights that OT administrators could not patch an astonishing 35% of all vulnerabilities unearthed in just the first half of this year. With no patches available, these legacy systems are at the mercy of cyber threats, their digital doors wide open for exploitation. To the trained eye of a malicious actor, a network scan is a treasure map, revealing goldmines like Windows XP or Windows NT installations. These aren't just legacy OT systems; they're glaring invitations inviting to hack.
3. Air Gapping is not practical
The predominant solution proposed by many IT administrators is 'air gapping.' Air gapping entails severing these legacy systems from the internet, isolating them in a digital silo. While this sounds like an effective barrier, it is not practical in a world where regulatory agencies demand continuous monitoring. A system that requires monitoring may have a backdoor route to the internet through the monitoring system, which almost always requires remote access by OT administrators. If these systems are compromised or the remote access solution has vulnerabilities, the entire OT infrastructure is open to attack.
4. Communities are at risk
The ramifications of unpatchable systems go well beyond mere cybersecurity concerns. For utility companies, the fallout from a compromised system can be monumental. Imagine a city's power grid suddenly shutting down, throwing entire communities, including hospitals, into darkness, all because of a single vulnerable system in the utility company’s network. Each compromised system can amplify the disruption, causing chaos in service delivery and incurring substantial unplanned costs. It's more than just a data breach; it's a service meltdown with significant financial and human consequences.
Network Cloaking: The Future of Cybersecurity
Network cloaking proactively secures systems, making them invisible to potential attackers by blocking all internet access for legacy OT systems. Imagine a hacker scanning a network for surveillance and finding nothing. Valuable OT assets, from Human-Machine Interfaces (HMIs) to essential workstations, vanish from security scans. Network cloaking doesn’t just deter invaders; it completely conceals your OT systems from sight, leaving intruders blind to their existence. As the cybersecurity landscape evolves and threats become more advanced, adopting network cloaking isn’t just a tactical move; it's a strategic necessity with the rising wave of zero-day vulnerabilities.
Network cloaking, by its nature, resists AI attacks. If the only attack surface available is a PKI-authenticated port, all network reconnaissance will fail. Suppose an OT device doesn’t have a public IP address, and the only way to access it is through a biometric-authenticated encrypted tunnel that masks its actual internal IP address. In that case, a hacker cannot discover that device, even if it is an automated AI.
The BlastShield Gateway is an OT administrator’s software-defined perimeter, a cybersecurity fortress protecting critical systems. It delivers the same user experience as Apple Pay and Google Pay: multi-factor authentication with biometric authentication and encrypted connections. The gateway also prevents lateral (east/west) movement, even within a legacy Layer 2 network. BlastShield is leading the charge to redefine OT cybersecurity protection with network cloaking.
Deploy the BlastShield Gateway between the Internet and your network, and the devices behind the gateway are cloaked from the prying probes of cybercriminals and bad actors. Devices behind the gateway cannot be detected with ICMP pings or port scans, as these are all handled by the gateway, obfuscating the secure network. The BlastShield Gateway also enforces layer two isolation between the gateway and devices, preventing lateral movements and strictly adhering to endpoint access policies.
Devices behind the gateway can only be seen after an initial multifactor authentication (MFA), including biometrics, and through a connection encrypted with the AES-256 encryption algorithm for remote access connections. Since no usernames or passwords are used, BlastShield is the phishing-resistant access technology needed to protect your critical infrastructure.
A BlastShield Gateway provides secure remote access and can protect site-to-site connections using the same policies and access control methods. Gateway nodes are connected securely, authenticated, and authorized by configured network policies to limit lateral movement between layer two devices.
Once instantiated, each BlastShield Gateway registers with the BlastShield Orchestrator. During this process, a secure private key is created to maintain secure connections with the Orchestrator and other nodes within the network.
Deploying the BlastShield™ Gateway is simple; the initial instance creation takes a few minutes to become operational. BlastWave software is highly flexible, supporting physical hardware (i.e., bare metal), VMs, or virtual instances in AWS, GCP, Azure, Docker, or Kubernetes. In OT environments, this flexibility enables quick deployment parallel to your existing infrastructure, where downtime is impossible for even a few minutes a year.
Critical server systems that require direct remote access can have an agent installed to provide increased security. Since these systems have the same access technology as the BlastShield Gateway, they resist lateral attacks and credential theft, ensuring higher protection for your OT management systems.
The BlastShield Gateway is a purpose-built, digitally signed hardened image. Unnecessary software processes have been deactivated and deleted, leaving the system lean and mean, with all non-essential ports and services removed.
The BlastShield™ Gateway's protection extends to a wide range of devices and environments:
BlastShield uniquely protects OT networks from IT risks through network cloaking. Unlike other solutions, BlastShield doesn't just patch vulnerabilities; it makes systems invisible to unauthorized entities, drastically reducing the risk of potential attacks. BlastShield offers protection even for unpatchable systems, ensuring that industries relying on older technologies are not vulnerable to hacking attempts.
In the era where cyberattacks are escalating, fortifying your organization's cybersecurity has never been more crucial. BlastShield is a beacon of robust security solutions, combining revolutionary features like Software-defined Perimeter (SDP) architecture, Phishing-resistant Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and Network Cloaking. Deploying BlastShield is streamlined for user convenience:
Step 1 - Download the Mobile Authenticator app and the Desktop Client
Step 2 - Register with your BlastShield™ Network
Step 3 - Connect to your BlastShield™ network and open your Orchestrator
Step 4 - Install BlastShield™ Agents on Windows, Linux, and macOS to protect hosts
Step 5 - Install BlastShield™ Gateways to protect your devices
Step 6 - Add new users to your protected network
Consider scheduling a personalized demo or starting a free trial to explore how BlastShield can revolutionize your organization's cybersecurity.
Empower your network's defense mechanism with BlastShield's unparalleled protection. Please schedule a demo today for a detailed understanding and a first-hand experience. Witness the future of cybersecurity.
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