Operational Technology Security Crisis

July 2, 2021

Industry 4.0 means access to timely and accurate data from your industrial systems. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) improves operational performance, ensures safety and compliance – and increases flexibility at an affordable cost. The global IIoT market size is expected to grow from USD $65 billion in 2018 to USD $118 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.83% during the forecast period of 2025. The growth of the IIoT in production is driven by factors such as:

  • technological developments (low cost of computing power),
  • increased use of cloud computing systems,
  • use of Industrial Controls Systems (ICS),
  • transition from closed propriety networks to standardization on Ethernet,
  • and funding for IIoT research and development from the government.1

As access to the data and computing resources expands, the sharing of information and correspondence between ICS and IT are defined as Operational Technologies (OT). OT is used in a variety of industries including manufacturing, oil and gas, electrical generation and distribution, aviation, maritime, rail and utilities. This new industrial world of connectivity anywhere at anytime raises a variety of security issues. With ICS networks becoming inexpensive and user friendly, the vulnerabilities and challenges of managing this connectivity have increased. Cybersecurity must be an integral part of any OT network. Most companies believe that having IT security in place is a defensive blanket that swaddles the business – shielding them from the predators of the outside world. The truth is, without having OT security, there is a virtual back door that is unlocked and open to anyone.

How do you know if your company has OT security?

Ask yourself these basic questions:

  • What devices are on your network and who has permission to operate them?
  • What can these devices access?
  • Do these devices have uncontrolled gateways to the internet?

When these questions go unanswered or the response is “I don’t know”, there is a substantial possibility that your business is exposed to threats from cyberattacks.

How can Cybertech Automation support your efforts against these threats?

To cope with the challenges in OT Cybersecurity, Cybertech Automation will take vital steps to ensure the safety of your assets and greatly reduce the risk of an attack. The first step will be to gain visibility by tracking and maintaining accurate inventory of OT assets with a comprehensive audit of your OT and ICS systems. Next, we analyze the data from a thorough audit called an assessment, which applies years of experience, industry best practices and standards to develop an action list of what issues were found, what issues are critical and how they can be fixed. Just like you have a SCADA system to help optimize and control your industrial process, you need an OT security solution to help improve visibility, suppress industrial cybersecurity events and ensure the protective controls you have implemented are operating correctly.

What are the top OT security threats that your company needs to be aware of?

OT security attacks can happen due to an internal mistake. Often, the same external hardware and removeable media are used in the office, in a public place and in the home. Malware and ransomware conceal their identity until connected to a company network, then deploy their objective to damage, disrupt and block access. Additionally, employees surfing the web on an OT computer provide a passageway for malware and ransomware to sneak in. For example, employees can (unwittingly) install malware through emails, games or by inserting USB devices into their laptops. They are often unaware of the risks associated with such actions. Systems can also be compromised by unauthorized or incorrectly configured software and hardware. Finally, legacy equipment, safety regulations that may prohibit any modifications being made to equipment, and compliance regulations that require sensitive data to be made available to third parties can all create an unsecure entrance into the system.

If you are interested in learning more about OT security for your company, please contact Cybertech Automation to discuss options for a safer future.

  1. https://www.olisystems.com/post/what-does-industrial-internet-of-things-iiot-mean-for-process-industry

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