Context-Aware Software-Defined Networking for Automated Incident Response in Industrial Networks
Due to the increasing flexibility of processes in modern plants the need for the respective networks' flexibility rises. Such dynamic networks are already performing well in, for example, data centres where they are based on the Software-defined Networking (SDN) paradigm. Because SDN has established itself in flexible, high performance environments, it is currently introduced into industrial networks as well. With the usage of SDN, a centralized view and controlling is added to these networks, which enables performing automated responses to network events. Such network events can be classified as incidents to which SDN can provide timely and, due to the holistic view on the network, appropriate, automated incident response, like immediate containment, monitoring or switching to redundancies. However, industrial networks generally have a high occurrence of availability-, safety- and time-critical communication which limit the scope for action of such an automated approach. Nevertheless, SDN-based incident response (SDN-IR) does not yet take into consideration these limitations, which prevent its application for industrial networks. This article identifies possible response actions to industrial network incidents. Furthermore, it presents a concept for SDN-IR where a predefined rule set restricts the response actions based on asset and link classification. This way, SDN-IR is able to satisfy the before mentioned requirements of industrial networks. In addition, the article describes a prototype of this concept and its evaluation, elucidates the perspective of a device security status in the SDN-IR context and discusses security issues of the concept.