There is a saying in cybersecurity that “Data is the new oil.” If that is true, then that oil is powering not only the economy but also industry. The term ‘Industry 4.0’ refers to the fourth industrial revolution where traditional manufacturing and industrial processes are increasingly using IT and data to the point that we’re now seeing the emergence of ‘smart factories.’

From the management and control of power and water to the management and control of farms, Operational Technology (OT) control machinery ensures they run effectively and efficiently. OT devices are increasingly becoming part of our IT world, and although the convergence has been happening for some time, it would seem we are only just beginning to recognize its significance.

OT/IT Convergence – The Past

Since the 1960’s, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems have been controlling manufacturing operations. These operations include water and wastewater systems, electric generation, transmission and distribution systems, oil and gas systems as well as food and health products production.

SCADA systems display the process under the control of the Industrial Control System (ICS), providing important feedback to the operators that everything is functioning appropriately.

But back in 2010, we discovered this communication could be disrupted when the computer worm STUXNET was used to disrupt the Iranian creation of plutonium. In 2011, a study was carried out where 200 IT security executives from critical electricity infrastructure enterprises in 14 counties were surveyed. The resulting report focused on critical civilian energy infrastructure that depends most heavily on ICS, and it revealed the following:

·         Four-fifths of respondents have faced a large-scale denial-of-service attack.

·         A quarter of respondents have been victims of extortion attempts.

·         More than 40% of executives (Read more...)