Cybersecurity: Addressing Deprecated Technologies

Nov. 20, 2023
Deprecated technology pose specific cybersecurity risks. That's why it's essential to phase them out of your systems.

In the context of technology, the term "deprecated" refers to the process of phasing out or discontinuing the use of certain technologies, features or programming interfaces. Technologies become deprecated for various reasons, such as security vulnerabilities, outdated design, lack of support or the introduction of more efficient alternatives.

The technology lifecycle typically includes four stages:

  1. Introduction: The technology is newly introduced and it gains popularity as developers and users start adopting it.
  2. Maturity: The technology is widely used, stable and well-supported. During this phase, it receives regular updates and improvements.
  3. Deprecation: As the technology reaches its limitations or security concerns arise, developers announce that it will be phased out in future versions. During this phase, it is recommended to stop using the technology and start planning for its replacement.
  4. End of Life (EOL): The technology is no longer supported and critical updates or security patches are no longer provided. It becomes risky to use the technology as it may expose systems to security vulnerabilities. 

Using deprecated technologies in an organization's IT infrastructure poses several security risks. First, these technologies may have known vulnerabilities that are no longer patched by the vendor, making them susceptible to unauthorized access or system disruptions. Second, non-compliance with industry or regulatory requirements can result from using outdated technologies, jeopardizing the organization's security posture. Third, outdated encryption algorithms or protocols may expose sensitive data to potential breaches. Moreover, the lack of support for deprecated technologies means that any newly discovered vulnerabilities will remain unaddressed, leaving systems vulnerable to exploitation. 

Integration with newer security tools and frameworks also becomes challenging, hindering the implementation of robust security measures. Lastly, these technologies might not be equipped to handle modern cybersecurity threats, making organizations more susceptible to attacks. Therefore, organizations must prioritize the timely upgrade and replacement of deprecated technologies to maintain a secure IT environment.

To maintain a strong cybersecurity posture, it's essential to identify and phase out deprecated technologies from your systems. Regularly updating software, using supported versions of applications and adopting modern security practices will help mitigate potential risks associated with deprecated technologies. 

We prioritize the security of our customers' industrial operations and strongly advocate for a security-conscious approach. Keeping a close eye on technological lifecycles and planning for timely upgrades and replacements is crucial to avoid unnecessary security risks. The concept of deprecated technologies is relevant in the realm of cybersecurity within industrial operations, just as it is in other technology domains.

The security impacts of deprecated tech 

In cybersecurity, deprecated technologies refer to software, hardware or system components that are no longer recommended for use due to security vulnerabilities or obsolescence. Implementing or continuing to use such technologies in industrial operations can expose critical infrastructure and industrial control systems to significant risks.

The implications of using deprecated technologies in industrial cybersecurity are numerous. Outdated technologies may lack crucial security updates, rendering them vulnerable to cyberattacks. Discontinued support and updates from vendors leave systems susceptible to evolving threats. The interconnected nature of industrial systems can amplify vulnerabilities, leading to risks for critical infrastructure. Non-compliance with regulations and standards can result in legal and reputational consequences. Insider threats may exploit knowledge of deprecated technologies, and the lack of vendor support hinders effective incident response.

Industrial organizations must take proactive measures to mitigate the risks associated with deprecated technologies. Regularly assessing and inventorying technology components is essential to identify deprecated elements. Developing a strategy for upgrading or replacing such technologies with modern and supported alternatives is vital. A proactive patch management program should be implemented to ensure systems and software stay up to date with the latest security patches. Adopting a defense-in-depth approach to cybersecurity, along with employee education and policy enforcement, can bolster the organization's security posture.

George T. Hall’s (GTH) expertise lies in modernizing deprecated technologies in industrial settings. We take a comprehensive approach to modernization, focusing on planning and evaluating existing infrastructure to minimize downtime and reduce risks. 

Mike Wootton is Technical Manager at George T. Hall Company, a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association(CSIA). For more information about George T. Hall Company, visit its profile on the CSIA Industrial Automation Exchange