How blockchain can help prevent cyberattacks like the Colonial Pipeline hack

Colonial Pipeline, JBS, Stuxnet, internet-of-things, denial-of-service attacks, Blockchain,  5G

Recent cyberattacks against Colonial Pipeline, meat-processor JBS and other organisations highlight the urgent need to increase cybersecurity around critical infrastructure in the United States. Ensuring proper cybersecurity measures must remain a priority for private and public companies, especially given the increasingly online and digital nature of operating systems today.

Currently, many industrial control systems are run by supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, which are a mixture of software and hardware components that enable the control of facilities like production plants. Companies typically use industrial control systems, and by extension SCADA systems, to gather real-time data on all aspects of industrial production, ranging from the refining of oil to the control of waste disposal and even coordinating the transportation of goods.

The critical oversight role that SCADA systems play within the industrial control system framework makes SCADA systems particularly appealing to threat actors, with Stuxnet being the first known to exclusively target SCADA systems to control networks.

Colonial Pipeline, JBS, Stuxnet, internet-of-things, denial-of-service attacks, Blockchain,  5G

Gasoline tankers pass by the Colonial Pipeline storage tanks located in Austell, Georgia, on May 10, as they enter the Marathon Powder Springs Terminal. Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS

Could implementing a blockchain framework help prevent such cyberattacks on industrial control and SCADA systems? The answer is a resounding yes, particularly if blockchain implementation is also merged with other emerging technologies like internet-of-things devices and 5G.

SCADA systems currently have several key components needed for a system to function, such as the SCADA display unit, remote terminal units, a control unit, and some sort of communication link to tie the network together.

The SCADA display unit allows for the monitoring of the entire industrial control system, while remote terminal units help to monitor the specific process being managed. The control unit passes data between the display unit and remote terminal units, with communication links being primarily industry-dependent, including Ethernet, internet-based wide-area network (WAN) links, and even radio waves.

SCADA systems are primarily made secure through local area network (LAN) and WAN devices. These tools allow for increased monitoring of SCADA processes. However, by virtue of the increasing popularity of internet protocol (IP)-based systems, SCADA systems also inherit the same vulnerabilities, among many others. SCADA systems can be breached in a variety of ways – through denial-of-service attacks, spoofing attacks, or even through spam emails.

Colonial Pipeline, JBS, Stuxnet, internet-of-things, denial-of-service attacks, Blockchain,  5G

People work at a production line of the JBS-Friboi chicken processing plant in Lapa, Parana State, Brazil, in March 2017. JBS USA, the American subsidiary of the world’s largest meat processing company, said on May 31 that it had been hacked, affecting its US and Australian IT systems. Photo: AFP

This makes protecting SCADA systems especially important for public and private organisations alike, with these systems often being the key to monitoring and protecting critical infrastructure throughout the world.

Blockchain could provide increased security for SCADA systems by acting as an instrument of authentication, authorisation and non-repudiation of critical data. Two specific cases that blockchain could be used n are as a secure protocol between SCADA display units and remote terminal units, and as a verification tool to validate system firmware and software.

By employing blockchain between SCADA display units and remote terminal units, threat actors would be unable to conduct cyberattacks such as spoofing. Blockchain’s verifiable credentials would ensure that only industrial control system and SCADA-approved devices could effectively function on such a network, with threat actors immediately breaking the chain, preventing any specific action.

Additionally, using blockchain to protect and verify firmware and software updates for system components would add another layer of protection to SCADA systems. Such blockchain-based registration of firmware and software could prevent situations like the 2014 Havex attack, when malware posing as legitimate software downloads for industrial control system software affected a variety of organisations in the US and Europe.

Integrating blockchain technology with internet-of-things devices and 5G could add additional layers of security for SCADA systems. While powerful in their own respects, combining these revolutionary technologies through all-encompassing tools like private networks are the best way to secure SCADA systems in both the short and long term.

In a private network, only authenticated users and devices would be able to access that specific network. Additionally, an on-premise solution deployed by an organisation with its own base stations and core would further remove system vulnerabilities from SCADA systems. An additional layer of security would be added by the private network through its local processing of company data, ensuring security and data privacy for industrial purposes.

Ultimately, blockchain and emerging technologies like private networks can help increase security for SCADA systems as the world becomes increasingly digitised. This type of security against cyber threats is especially vital to safeguard countries’ critical infrastructure, whether that be an oil pipeline, water plant or even air conditioning unit.

However, regardless of the type of blockchain security or private network, a system is only as secure as the employees trained to operate it. Human error will remain a potential avenue of approach for threat actors looking to damage industrial systems, no matter how secure those networks may seem from the outside.

Hugh Harsono writes regularly for multiple publications about cyberspace, economics, foreign affairs and technology

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Max group firm MaxVIL plans to expand realty business; looks to add at least 2 projects in FY22

Real Estate Bullish on the Indian real estate market, Max group firm Max Ventures and Industries Ltd (MaxVIL) is looking to acquire at least two land parcels, outright or through joint ventures, in Delhi-NCR this fiscal ... Read more »

Quarterly earnings, global cues to dictate trends in markets this week: Analysts

Representative Image Quarterly earnings and global cues will be the major sentiment driver for the equity market this week, according to analysts. Of late, Benchmark indices have been on a ... Read more »

Insomnia, exhaustion, feeling trapped – Zoom fatigue from too much videoconferencing is real, so what can you do about it?

When Stephanie Ko found herself facing a two-week quarantine in Shanghai, she scheduled more video calls than she had at any other time during the coronavirus pandemic. The director of ... Read more »

Gold imports jump multi-fold to $24 billion in April-September

Gold imports, which have a bearing on the current account deficit, zoomed to about USD 24 billion during April-September 2021 due to higher demand in the country, according to data ... Read more »

Power consumption up 3% at 57.22 billion units in October 1-15

(Representative image) India’s power consumption grew 3.35 percent in the first half of October to 57.22 billion units (BU), showing recovery amid coal shortage at electricity generation plants, according to ... Read more »

Uttarakhand news: Stay on high alert for heavy rainfall, CM Pushkar Singh Dhami directs police, SDRF

Uttarakhand is likely to witness heavy rainfall in the coming days. [Representative image] Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, on October 17, inquired about the situation in the state due ... Read more »

Talks between Pakistan, IMF for release of $1 billion loan tranche remains inconclusive: Report

Representational Image The fresh rounds of talks between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund for the release of USD 1 billion loan tranche and a good economic certificate to the nation have remained inconclusive, ... Read more »

Netflix estimates Squid Game will be worth almost $1.2 billion to company

Squid Game stands out both for its popularity, and its relatively low cost. LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) – Netflix estimates that its latest megahit, “Squid Game,” will create almost US$900 million ... Read more »

‘Residential revolt' in Rotterdam: ‘They do not take us into account'

Opponents of the current housing policy are gathering in Rotterdam today to protest. They call it a ‘residential stand’. As with the housing protest in Amsterdam last month, people from ... Read more »

Long COVID may not be as fatal as acute COVID-19 but can worsen existing ailments, say experts

Representative image Long-Covid may not be as fatal and hard-hitting as acute COVID-19 and mostly improve over time but it can worsen existing ailments such as diabetes and kidney diseases, ... Read more »

Air India privatisation saga: 'Time we stopped paying Rs 20 crore/day of taxpayers money to keep it flying'

Air India | Representative image Two aborted missions, three different ministers, multiple rule changes, and two decades later, Indian taxpayers will no longer have to pay Rs 20 crore per day to ... Read more »

Kerala landslide toll rises to eight as search for those missing on

Rescue workers search for the bodies of missing persons after a landslide, triggered by heavy rains and floods, at Nenmara in Palakkad, Kerala. (Image: PTI) The death toll from heavy rains and ... Read more »

Sri Lanka seeks $500 million loan from India for fuel purchase

Representative image Sri Lanka has sought a USD 500 million credit line from India to pay for its crude oil purchases amid a severe foreign exchange crisis in the island nation. The move came ... Read more »

Power Global to invest $25 million to set up battery infrastructure facility in India over next 2-3 years

Representative image US-based clean energy and mobility products start-up Power Global plans to invest around USD 25 million (around Rs 185 crore) to set up a lithium-ion battery manufacturing unit ... Read more »

Is this China's ‘Great Resignation'? Freelancers find both hope and uncertainty in bid to escape 9-to-5 grind

With China’s working environment becoming increasingly stressful and competitive, Zheng Lizhu’s career ambitions as a designer shifted dramatically earlier this year. “The competition and anxiety in the design industry made ... Read more »

Over 4 crore unorganised workers registered on e-Shram portal

The Ministry of Labour and Employment on Sunday said the number registrations has crossed 4-crore mark on e-Shram portal in less than two months of its launch. According to a ... Read more »

Govt to decide tax cut on petrol after reviewing the state's economy: Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai (File image) Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Sunday said that the government will decide on reducing the petrol price by effecting a tax cut, after reviewing ... Read more »

Gold ETFs attract Rs 446 crore in September; inflow may continue in coming months on festive season demand

Gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) attracted Rs 446 crore in September and inflow may continue in coming months due to strong demand on the back of festival season in the country. ... Read more »

FPIs turn net sellers in capital markets in October so far, pull out net Rs 1,472 crore

Kerala had set up India’s first lottery department in 1967. Foreign portfolio investors (FPI) have turned net sellers in the capital markets in October so far, reversing the trend of ... Read more »

Coronavirus Update | India logs 14,146 fresh COVID-19 cases, 144 new deaths

Since the beginning of the country’s vaccination drive, 69.26 crore people have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and 27.88 crore are fully vaccinated. (Representative image) India recorded ... Read more »

With current reset in global supply chain, opportunities galore in India for investors and industry stakeholders: Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman. Opportunities are galore in India for all investors and industry stakeholders with the current reset in the global supply chain and clear headed and committed leadership ... Read more »

Indian economy is bouncing back strongly: MoS for External Affairs V Muraleedharan

Representational image. Muraleedharan said the Narendra Modi government has undertaken “far-reaching” structural reforms, making use of the mantra of ‘Reform, Perform and Transform’. “These reforms range from digital transactions to ... Read more »

Procurement of expensive aircraft parts to be done after approval of senior official: Air India

Air India | Representative image New aircraft parts worth more than Rs 10 lakhs and non-aircraft parts worth more than Rs 5 lakh will now be procured only after the ... Read more »

Moneycontrol Area Watch | Jewar Airport brings tailwinds to projects along Yamuna Expressway

Buddh International Circuit (above) brought the Yamuna Expressway in the limelight, and now the proposed Jewar Airport is giving the area a leg-up. Buddh International Circuit – India’s first and ... Read more »

Inside Squid Game's Jung Ho-yeon and Blackpink Jennie's friendship – everything we know about Korea's hottest new celebrity BFF duo

Thanks to the global success of the hit Korean series Squid Game, Jung Ho-yeon has quickly become the girl to watch. Apart from blowing people away with her incredible acting ... Read more »

Effects of China's regulatory onslaught felt in Hong Kong as large IPOs fall by the wayside

Hong Kong’s primary-listing market is going through a dry patch in what is normally the busiest time of the year. Several potential billion-dollar initial public offerings ranging from supermarket owner ... Read more »

China's electric car start-ups turn to private equity, venture capital for funds as they are turned away from Shanghai's Star Market

China’s cash-hungry electric vehicle (EV) start-ups, are actively looking to private equity and venture capital for funding, as they seek alternative financing sources in the face of tougher thresholds for ... Read more »

Expect 8-12% market returns in next one year: Ajay Kejriwal of Choice Broking

Ajay Kejriwal, President at Choice Broking feels that Infosys (the growth leader in the sector) and TCS (a sector leader) will continue to attract investors’ interest, mainly on the back ... Read more »

Incessant rains lash Kerala; 'Red Alert' in 5 districts

Monsoon Heavy rains lashed Kerala, especially the south and central regions on Saturday, causing water-logging in several areas and leaving many rivers in spate, as the weathermen sounded ‘red alert’ ... Read more »

Cryptocurrency Prices Today on October 17: Polkadot plunges over 3%

Cryptocurrency (Representative image) Cryptocurrency prices continue to be in mostly in red on October 17. The global cryptocurrency market cap is Rs 185.34 lakh crores, a 0.36 percent decrease over ... Read more »

World Bank president David Malpass congratulates India on successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign

World Bank President David Malpass (Image: Reuters) World Bank president David Malpass on Saturday congratulated India on a successful vaccination campaign against the Covid-19 pandemic as he met finance minister ... Read more »

Why independent floors are staging a comeback this festive season

Builder floors are also gaining popularity because they combine the benefits of traditional apartments and villas. With one flat typically constructed on a single floor, occupying families have more space ... Read more »

Gati Shakti, digitisation, 'Make in India' discussed as Nirmala Sitharaman meets top CEOs in New York

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman. The discussions that took place between Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the world’s leading business officers at the Big Apple in New York heavily emphasized on India’s ... Read more »

Congress slams 'catastrophic mishandling' of economy; says every aspect of democracy 'diminished'

19 Opposition parties including Congress will jointly launch a protest against the Centre (File image: PTI) The Congress hit out at the Centre over what it said was ”catastrophic mishandling” of the economy and also alleged ... Read more »

SIA sees moderate uptick in September passenger traffic on VTL tailwind

The group’s total passenger traffic rose by 4.4 per cent in September. SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – The vaccinated travel lane (VTL) arrangement has helped lift demand for Singapore Airlines ... Read more »

"Democracy survived" Capitol riot because of police: Joe Biden

Joe Biden addressing UN General Assembly (Image: Twitter/@ANI) Framed by the Capitol, President Joe Biden paid tribute Saturday to fallen law enforcement officers and honored those who fought off the Jan. 6 ... Read more »

Investors in two-thirds of companies listed globally risk losing US$8.4 trillion because of declining ocean health: WWF

Investors in two-thirds of companies listed around the world were at the risk of losing US$8.4 trillion – or around a tenth of global gross domestic product (GDP) – due ... Read more »

Chinese realtor's $300-billion debt: Evergrande CEO in restructuring, asset sale talks

Evergrande Group’s chief executive is holding talks in Hong Kong with investment banks and creditors over a possible restructuring and asset sales, two people said, as the Chinese developer battles ... Read more »

It isn't just the UK that's suffering supply chain issues. In the US, the crisis may last until the summer

A trucker at the Port of Long Beach in California has said "sometimes drivers get mad" because they are waiting double the time they usually would for one load. Read more »

Busan film festival hit Fanatic's director on the K-pop fans it features who – like her – fell in love with celebrities later convicted of crimes, and their mixed feelings afterwards

What does it mean to be a fan of someone who turns out to be a criminal? That’s what South Korean film student Oh Se-yeon wanted to explore in her ... Read more »