Before the revolution of Information Technology (IT), the world experienced the revolution of Operational Technology (OT). Operational Technology is the combination of hardware and software that controls and operates the physical mechanisms of industry. OT systems play an important role in the water, manufacturing, power, and distribution systems that transformed industry into the modern age. All of these systems function to operate, automate, and manage industrial machines. With the rise of the internet within the industrial sector, OT systems are also being exposed to the same disruptive threats that exist for all internet-connected devices, such as intellectual property theft, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) botnets, and ransomware attacks.

Difference between IT and OT

Traditionally, OT and IT networks have been managed and monitored separately. IT and OT systems have the same tools but we use them in different ways. Unlike IT tools, OT tools are designed to interact with machines. The main purpose of using these tools is to ensure that the industrial control systems are operating correctly and maintaining the high availability of devices. Using legacy software makes them more vulnerable to threats that can affect the high availability requirements. Generally, OT systems were “air-gapped” from the IT network, running in a separate, siloed environment away from the internet. However, with the introduction of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), systems can be controlled and monitored remotely, taking full advantage of networks and software.

Remote capabilities helps organizations to decrease costs and increase efficiency. However, this means that the air-gaps are decreasing rapidly.  This has made OT more accessible and open to cyber threats.

What is Operational Technology Security?

Historically, OT security was limited to protection of the physical plant because OT systems were not connected to the internet. Strong perimeter gates, and human-based access controls, such as security guards, (Read more...)