Article

Project Vision: Passive mapping for fragile systems

An innovative tool that conducts non-invasive network scanning on sensitive ICS systems

Before a security strategy can be effectively planned and implemented, it is important to have a good understanding of what you are trying to protect. At a basic level this first involves taking an inventory of the assets that will be under the jurisdiction of the security strategy. However, creating that inventory can in reality be an involving and invasive task.

The traditional approach to this problem involves conducting network scans and manual inspections of the sites to identify the existence of assets. This can be a resource intensive task and, for sensitive or heavily loaded networks, can potentially cause disruption to normal work activities.

Our experience indicated that in many situations the threat of disruption was unacceptable and an alternative means of mapping networks was required, a passive solution that did not require interaction with networks or systems was desirable. This requirement is especially true for Industrial Control Systems (ICS) where network scanning may cause devices to become unresponsive or reset.

With this in mind, Project Vision was created with the aim of producing an un-invasive, safe system mapping solution. As a clean-sheet exercise we investigated alternate sources of information and intelligent ways of collating information to produce meaningful output formats for our clients. An example development output is provided below:

passive-image

Project Vision demonstrating visualisation of network hosts, detected ports and traffic activity to internal and external addresses based on multiple information sources.

Project Vision is being developed to make use of system diagrams, passive network captures, active network scans where permissible and other, novel information sources. Our work has proven the concept is viable and development is now continuing to produce; additional input, information processing and output modules to expand the capabilities of Project Vision. Although project vision is primarily aimed at ICS it can also be employed for enterprise networks and adapted to suit non IP based communication links as required.

 

 

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