OT Secure Remote Access with BlastShield

Frictionless Software Defined Perimeter for Critical Infrastructure

Secure Remote Access with BlastShield

OT Secure Remote Access is Paramount for OT Networks

Secure remote access is a cornerstone of modern critical infrastructure operations, enabling OT administrators to connect to their networks and resources from any location. However, secure remote access has become an Achilles heel for OT networks for the following reasons:

  1. MFA is Critical: Credentials Theft is behind 90% of successful cyber attacks.

CISA’s 2022 Year in Review reported that over 90% of successful cyber attacks start with a phishing email and promoted multifactor authentication as one of their four key steps to keep companies cyber-safe. The introduction of AI-based Phishing tools has made phishing a more insidious threat to credential theft. Users often reuse passwords across multiple platforms, increasing the risk of a security breach. Simple username and password combinations lack the robustness to secure sensitive data and resources and do not offer the same level of security as multi-factor authentication (MFA) methods, specifically biometric authentication.

  1. VPNs Increasingly Challenged in OT Environments: Scalability, Complexity, and Vulnerability.

Traditional Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are no longer sufficient to deliver the Secure Remote Access OT networks need. There is a growing need for more robust security measures that can adapt to the changing threat landscape and provide a secure yet user-friendly remote access experience. VPNs often struggle with scalability, especially when many remote users simultaneously access the network. VPNs require significant management overhead, including server infrastructure maintenance and client software configuration. Even more troubling is that VPNs are increasingly prone to sophisticated cyber attacks and zero-day vulnerabilities. Once breached, an improperly configured VPN client can provide attackers with access to the entire network.

  1. Regulatory Requirements Growing: Protect the Keys to the Kingdom

Multiple OT industry regulatory bodies have added Secure Remote Access as a critical component of cybersecurity compliance. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework, NERC CIP, and ISA/IEC 62443 all promote secure remote access and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) to enforce least privilege access to OT networks BEFORE granting access to resources.

BlastShield: A Frictionless OT Secure Remote Access Experience

BlastShield™ is a transformative solution for OT Secure Remote Access, delivering a superior user experience with ironclad security. Its combination of network cloaking, multifactor authentication, zero-trust security, and user-friendly implementation and compliance adherence makes it a formidable tool for organizations aiming to fortify their remote access capabilities in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

OT Secure Remote Access Industry Use Cases

BlastShield™'s secure remote access capabilities are essential across various industries, each with unique challenges and requirements. Here are practical examples illustrating how BlastShield addresses these needs:

Secure Remote Access for Oil & Gas Companies

Scenario:

A transnational oil and gas company uses a leading VPN solution for remote access to its OT network. However, one of their sites has an out-of-date VPN server, and a hacker group discovers this and exploits a known critical vulnerability. They gain access to the user credentials stored on the server and laterally move within the OT network, identifying critical ICS systems and the servers that control the operational parameters that control the flow of oil and gas through a pipeline network. The hackers manipulate these control systems to disrupt operations, causing minor damage, and demand a ransom to prevent them from shutting the entire pipeline down. The company pays the ransom but then implements BlastShield, eliminating passwords from its security stack, enforcing multifactor authentication for all remote access, and microsegmenting its OT network to prevent lateral movement.

Industry Perspective:

The oil and gas industry is moving towards a more proactive approach to secure remote access, recognizing its importance for operational efficiency, data security, and compliance. This shift in perspective is crucial for protecting critical infrastructure and ensuring the safe and reliable operation of energy production and distribution systems. ZTNA solutions are gaining popularity due to their ability to provide granular access control, continuous verification, and improved security compared to traditional VPNs. Stricter regulations, such as NERC CIP and ISA/IEC 62443, mandate secure access controls for critical infrastructure in the industry, creating a compliance imperative for oil and gas companies to adopt more robust remote access solutions.

BlastShield: Network Cloaking for Proactive Oil and Gas Cybersecurity

BlastShield ensures secure and reliable remote access for OT administrators of oil and gas networks, offering robust encryption and MFA, including biometrics. Its network cloaking technology protects critical infrastructure, even in remote locations, by making them invisible to unauthorized scans, thus safeguarding sensitive operational data and preventing network access or visibility until a user authenticates.

Secure Remote Access for Water / Wastewater

Scenario: 

A malicious hacking group uses AI to research Aqua City's online presence and social media to identify potential vulnerabilities. They target employees responsible for water treatment operations through phishing emails and social engineering tactics, gaining access to login credentials or tricking them into installing malware. Using the stolen credentials, the attackers gain access to Aqua City's remote access portal, which uses outdated software with known vulnerabilities.

They exploit these vulnerabilities to escalate their privileges and gain access to the SCADA system. The hackers demonstrate their control by manipulating water treatment processes, altering chemical dosages, and disrupting essential operations. They demand a ransom, but one of the OT network administrators identifies the vulnerability in their system and patches it before the hackers take complete control, halting the hack before it has catastrophic effects. The OT administrator replaces the remote access device with BlastShield and removes phishing as a risk factor for their network, and makes their entire network AI-resistant to hackers.

Industry Perspective:

Public utilities like water treatment are increasingly targets for cybercriminals because of their critical nature to a regional population and their dependence on legacy technology. The rapidly evolving nature of cyber threats and the growing number of attacks targeting water facilities have directly led to increased investment in secure remote access solutions. The industry's perspective on secure remote access is shifting towards a proactive approach that recognizes its benefits for operational efficiency, data accessibility, flexibility, cost savings, cyber security, regulatory compliance, collaboration, maintenance, and future-proofing infrastructure. By embracing secure remote access solutions, wastewater facilities can enhance operations, protect critical infrastructure, and ensure reliable and sustainable water processing.

BlastShield: Shutting down Hackers for Water / Wastewater OT networks

BlastShield provides secure remote access to these critical systems, ensuring operators can monitor and manage them without exposing them to cyber threats. Its zero-trust architecture and network cloaking capabilities protect against unauthorized access and lateral movements within the network.

Secure Remote Access for Manufacturing

Scenario: 

A highly profitable manufacturing plant producing cutting-edge electronics components. The security for their SCADA system is a remote desktop application running on the server managing the SCADA system. It has an unknown zero-day vulnerability that a hacking group has discovered but has yet to be generally known. The IT/OT administrator only allows access to the SCADA system through the RDP application, and the system is accessible from the internet to enable the administrator to control the system from home.

The hacker group discovers through reconnaissance that this system is on the IT network and exploits the newly discovered vulnerability.  They alter robot control programs, leading to faulty components and production delays. While manipulating production processes, the hackers also steal proprietary data through lateral movement in the IT network. The vendor announces the vulnerability and releases a patch, but the company's secrets are splashed all over the headlines because they choose not to pay the ransom demand. The network administrator deploys BlastWave to secure remote access to the SCADA system, and the hackers can no longer penetrate the OT network. Network cloaking prevents the SCADA system vulnerability from being discovered during the reconnaissance phase of the attack, and the biometric MFA prevents any insecure remote access.

Industry Perspective:

Manufacturing plants increasingly rely on remote access for real-time monitoring and control of production lines. Manufacturers are adopting industry-specific protocols like ISA/IEC 62443 and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework that provide best practices for securing OT systems. Despite proactive vulnerability management and network segmentation, too many legacy systems, zero-day vulnerabilities, and temporary contractor access to OT systems put manufacturing networks at risk daily.

BlastShield: Keeping Manufacturing Secure

With BlastShield, manufacturers can enable secure remote access for staff and third-party vendors, ensuring the integrity of production processes. The solution's MFA and AES-256 encryption protect against unauthorized access, while network cloaking and microsegmenation secure the OT network infrastructure from bad actors.

Secure Remote Access for Energy

Scenario:

A hostile nation-state wants to gain control of power plant's serving a nation’s capital to disrupt the government’s daily operations. They use an AI-based tool to target the SCADA system and conduct extensive research, analyzing its systems, security protocols, and operational procedures. The hackers identify key personnel responsible for plant operations and IT security through extensive use of a customized AI GPT through social media and professional networking platform research. They launch targeted phishing campaigns against these individuals, using AI-powered spear phishing emails tailored to their interests and roles. One unsuspecting employee clicks on a malicious link in a phishing email, unknowingly downloading malware onto their device, establishing a covert communication channel with the hacker’s command and control server. The attackers leverage the compromised device as a foothold to access the power plant's internal network. Exploiting known vulnerabilities in the remote access software used by plant personnel, they gain unauthorized access to the SCADA system and cause instability in the power grid, leading to cascading outages and potential equipment damage.

The hackers leverage advanced techniques to mask their activities and delay detection, exploiting the limited security monitoring capabilities within the plant's OT network by erasing logs to cover their tracks to buy time for further manipulation and damage. The administrator air gaps the SCADA system until they can patch it and install BlastWave to prevent further insecure remote access and remove phishing as a risk vector for the future.

Industry Perspective:

The energy sector strives to adhere to various industry standards and regulations, such as NERC CIP and ISA/IEC 62443, which guide the security of OT networks. Unfortunately, energy sector employees need secure remote access to manage energy production and distribution networks, often spread across vast geographical areas. Implementing a secure remote access solution that provides phishing-resistant access and microsegmentation minimizes the risk of unauthorized access and keeps the power on for citizens.

BlastShield: Powering Energy’s OT networks

BlastShield's secure remote access solution allows energy companies to maintain continuous operations without compromising user credentials. Its scalable architecture is ideal for this industry's vast and complex networks, providing robust security without hampering operational efficiency.

Secure Remote Access for Data Centers

Scenario:

A rapidly expanding data center lands a new financial payments customer and grants them access to manage their services with their standard VPN client. Unfortunately, the VPN client has a closely held password vulnerability, which an elite hacker group has discovered and exploited several times without being caught, including at this hosting location. They see that the new client is a payments processor and immediately exploit this vulnerability to access their customer database. The hackers sell the information on the dark web, and the payment company pulls their business from the data center, blaming them for the loss. The VPN client finally announces the vulnerability, and the data center changes its remote access solution to BlastWave to eliminate passwords as a vulnerability for all of their customers.

Industry Perspective:

Data center managers and IT staff require remote access to manage and monitor network and operational technology infrastructure. These two networks are often not appropriately segmented, and any break in remote access exposes both networks to risk. Many customers of data centers are subject to rigorous security mandates, including HIPAA, PCI DSS, GLBA, NERC CIP, GDPR, NIS, Directive, and CISA Guidelines, making secure remote access a critical business differentiator and a method to achieve higher tiers as part of the Uptime Institute Tier Standards. 

BlastShield: Keeping Data Center Networks Secure

BlastShield offers passwordless, secure remote access for data center management, crucial for maintaining uptime and data security. Its network cloaking and zero-trust approach protect sensitive data and critical infrastructure from cyber threats and can also segment the IT and OT networks to ensure that vulnerabilities in one do not affect the other. 

Secure Remote Access for Building Management

Scenario:

An ethical hacking group targets a financial high-rise office building complex with a sophisticated building management system (BMS). The hackers discover the building management network uses outdated software with known vulnerabilities. They exploit these vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to the remote access portal used by building engineers and maintenance staff and steal login credentials for authorized personnel, granting them complete control over the BMS. The hackers begin manipulating the BMS, turning off security cameras and creating blind spots for potential criminal activity, altering temperature settings, causing discomfort for occupants and potentially damaging sensitive equipment, and manipulating elevator controls, causing delays and inconvenience for tenants. A sense of insecurity and vulnerability arises among occupants due to compromised security systems, and the company faces financial losses due to downtime, employee turnover, and replacement components for building systems.

The company realized its vulnerability and replaced its remote access solution with BlastWave. The hackers no longer have a path to access the OT network, blocking further harassment attempts.

Industry Perspective:

Multiple smart building certifications list secure remote access as a critical component of a comprehensive security policy, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the Well Building Standard, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), the Resilient Efficient and Sustainable Building (RESET), and Green Globes. Although these are not mandatory for building management, they make them more attractive to tenants, and they provide a valuable framework for securing remote access in smart buildings and mitigating cybersecurity risks. As more devices are connected and require temporary contractor access in smart buildings, secure remote access will ensure smart buildings stay operational.

BlastShield: Locking the doors for OT Building Management 

BlastShield enables secure and efficient remote management of building systems, ensuring the safety and comfort of occupants. Its network cloaking technology and MFA protect against unauthorized access, which is crucial in a sector increasingly targeted by cyberattacks. 

OT Secure Remote Access: BlastShield’s Cutting-Edge Solutions

BlastShield™ Gateway and Host Agent

The BlastShield™ Gateway and Host Agent are integral components of BlastShield's secure remote access solution, each playing a pivotal role in ensuring a secure remote connectivity experience. Their functionalities and security features address the complexities and threats associated with remote access in today's digital environment.

BlastShield™ Gateway: The Core of Network Security

  • Functionality: The BlastShield™ Gateway is a primary checkpoint between the Internet and an organization's internal network. It serves as the first line of defense, ensuring that only authenticated traffic can enter the network. An unauthorized user is subject to BlastShield’s network cloaking, which renders devices behind the gateway invisible to unauthorized external scans and probes.
  • Layer Two Isolation: One of the critical features of the BlastShield™ Gateway is its enforcement of layer two isolation. This feature restricts lateral movements within the network, an essential security measure to prevent the spread of breaches should they occur even by authorized users.
  • Endpoint Access Policies: The Gateway strictly adheres to defined endpoint access policies, allowing granular control over who can access what within the network, enhancing overall network security.

BlastShield™ Host Agent: Facilitating Secure Endpoints

  • Purpose: The BlastShield™ Host Agent is installed on individual hosts (servers or workstations) to provide secure access points within the network. It is particularly effective in environments with multiple and diverse endpoints, including those running on different operating systems like Windows, Linux, and macOS.
  • Secure Access with Encryption and MFA: The Host Agent secures each endpoint with end-to-end AES-256 encryption and multi-factor authentication, including biometrics. This setup significantly mitigates the risks associated with credential theft and unauthorized access, especially those powered by GenAI
  • Ease of Deployment and Management: The Host Agent is designed for easy deployment and minimal management overhead, making it an efficient solution for organizations of all sizes. Its compatibility with various platforms and ability to integrate seamlessly into existing infrastructure make it a versatile tool for secure remote access.

The BlastShield™ Gateway and Host Agent provide a comprehensive, secure remote access solution. They combine to create a robust security perimeter around an organization's network while ensuring that individual endpoints are equally protected and accessible only to authenticated and authorized users. This dual-layered approach ensures that organizations can confidently and safely facilitate remote access, which is crucial in today’s increasingly remote work landscape.

1. Advanced Network Cloaking Technology:

  • Invisibility to Unauthorized Users: BlastShield's pioneering network cloaking technology renders network assets invisible to unauthorized users, significantly reducing the network's exposure to potential cyber-attacks.
  • Proactive Security Stance: Rather than merely defending against attacks, BlastShield takes a proactive approach by making critical infrastructure elements undetectable and inaccessible to unauthorized entities.

2. Robust Authentication and Encryption:

  • Phishing-Resistant Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): BlastShield™ employs advanced MFA mechanisms, including biometric options, to securely authenticate users. This feature effectively counters the prevalent threat of credential theft and phishing.
  • End-to-End AES-256 Encryption: Ensuring secure communication channels, BlastShield encrypts all remote access connections with the robust AES-256 standard, safeguarding data integrity and confidentiality.

3. Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP) Architecture:

  • Dynamic Access Control: The SDP architecture of BlastShield™ creates an active and context-sensitive perimeter around network resources, allowing only authenticated and authorized users to access them.
  • Reduced Attack Surface: By minimizing the number of accessible points, BlastShield™ effectively reduces the network's attack surface, providing an additional layer of security.

4. Zero-Trust Security Model:

  • Verification and Trust: In line with the zero-trust security model, BlastShield™ operates on the principle of 'never trust, always verify,' ensuring that every access request is authenticated and authorized, irrespective of the user's location.

5. Seamless Integration and User Experience:

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: Designed for versatility, BlastShield™ is compatible with a wide range of platforms, including physical, virtual, and cloud environments, facilitating seamless integration into existing infrastructures.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Despite its sophisticated backend, BlastShield™ offers an intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it accessible to users with varying technical expertise.

6. Compliance and Regulatory Adherence:

  • Alignment with Industry Standards: BlastShield™ aligns with essential regulatory and compliance standards, ensuring that organizations meet critical data protection and privacy requirements.

Authentication and Encryption with BlastShield

BlastShield™ incorporates a robust framework of authentication and encryption to secure remote access, employing a combination of multi-factor authentication (MFA), biometrics, and AES-256 encryption. These features are central to its ability to provide high security and data protection.

1. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):

  • Layered Security Approach: MFA in BlastShield adds multiple layers of security by requiring more than one verification method from independent categories of credentials to validate a user's identity. This approach significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Biometric Authentication: Biometrics, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, are incorporated as authentication factors. This use of biometrics enhances security by using the unique physical characteristics of the user, making it much more difficult for intruders to replicate or steal login information.
  • Phishing-Resistant: The MFA mechanism in BlastShield resists phishing attacks with biometrics and other authentication factors, providing a more secure defense against such threats.

2. AES-256 Encryption:

  • Strong Encryption Standard: BlastShield employs AES-256 encryption, one of the most vigorous encryption standards, to protect data during transmission. This level of encryption ensures that data remains secure and unreadable to unauthorized parties.
  • End-to-end Protection: From the initial login to the final data transmission, all interactions within the BlastShield™ utilize AES-256 encryption, ensuring end-to-end protection.

3. Securing Data in Transit and at Rest:

  • Data in Transit: During remote access sessions, all data transmitted between the user’s device and the network is encrypted, safeguarding sensitive information against eavesdropping and interception.
  • Data at Rest: BlastShield also ensures the security of data at rest. Encrypted storage and secure handling of authentication credentials mean that sensitive information remains protected even when not in active use.

The combination of advanced MFA and AES-256 encryption in BlastShield™ is crucial in securing remote access. This dual approach fortifies the network against unauthorized access and data breaches. It instills confidence among users and organizations about the safety of their data and resources in a remote work environment.

Getting Started with BlastShield

In a landscape increasingly threatened by sophisticated cyberattacks, strengthening your organization's cybersecurity is more critical than ever. BlastShield is a leading solution in secure remote access, integrating advanced features like Software-defined Perimeter (SDP) architecture, phishing-resistant Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Network Cloaking, and effective Network Segmentation. The deployment of BlastShield is tailored for ease and efficiency, ensuring a user-friendly setup process:

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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