May 30, 2020

3 Ways Successful OT Protection Makes Your Business Possible

OT Networks are still a black box for security teams and do not provide telemetry for industrial settings to see and track

Each business in the world relies on networks with operating technology (OT). Such networks are vital components of their business for nearly half of the Fortune 2000 – in industries like oil and gas, insurance, telecommunications, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage. The rest depend on OT networks to operate their office facilities-lighting, elevators, and equipment for the datacenter.

Adversaries understand the significance of these networks and have boldly targeted them, as in the case of WannaCry and NotPetya, to cause widespread havoc. You also know how to use them in more subtle ways that might not be readily detected but might erode public trust. For example, disrupting the production of top pharmaceutical firms to establish drug shortages, or messing with the logistics-responsible industrial machines at our largest transport hubs to bring trade to a standstill.

The more important OT networks are for your business, the more critical to the success of your operations is the successful OT security. In fact, it enables your business in three important ways : 1) to protect “business as usual,” 2) to reduce the risk of digital transformation, and 3) to secure remote access; Let’s further discuss those.

1. Secure like normal company

For companies whose OT networks are the lifeblood of their business, revenue is created and when those systems are up and running, the lives of consumers are improved. When systems need to be shut down and restarted, any risk that affects functionality and uptime can have considerable financial effects. Attempts may also be designed to jeopardize the distribution of the product, producing modifications in a product that are not beneficial in several different ways, such as manipulating formulations with machines or contaminating the water sources used in the manufacturing method. Ultimately, and most critically, in case of machinery malfunctions, OT environments also provide protection devices to protect people inside or outside the plant. A compromise of these systems may have serious effects for the lives of workers , their families and local communities.

Action:

For decades, the OT network has been a blind spot for IT security practitioners but now the urgency is escalating to resolve the security gap between IT and OT. Because OT networks do not have current security controls, you can build a security system from scratch – without having to worry about existing security technologies. The most critical use cases can be prioritized and the emphasis on achieving maximum exposure in your OT environment. With granular descriptions of all assets, sessions, procedures, and related levels of risk, you can identify threats in the network to reduce danger, and ensure continuing critical process operations.

2. Reduce digital transformation risk

In order to stay here, digital transformation is good for business. Connecting OT networks to automation and input IT systems has unlocked tremendous business value-enabling operational efficiency, performance, and service quality improvements. Recently, as businesses transition more of their online activities to build a new standard and plan for a post-pandemic future, the shift to the digital has accelerated. As businesses seek to improve communication between their OT and IT networks, many find that the accurate detection – much less reduction – of risks in their industrial environments is extraordinarily complex and resource-intensive due in large part to fundamental differences between OT and IT.

Action:

As a security professional, chances are you’ve been working hard and making strategic investments to build on the IT side a solid cybersecurity base to help digital initiatives in your business. In using the gaps between OT and IT networks to your benefit, you now have an ability to do the same on the OT side. OT networks are built to connect and exchange much more information than IT components usually do – the software version they run, configuration, serial numbers and more. OT network activity therefore offers all of the security details that you need to track for threats. You will start to close the IT-OT security gap with a solution that you can easily implement for asset visibility and continuous monitoring of threats.

3. Remote access Safe

OT network administrators need to give more staff safe remote access than ever before. Besides manufacturers who typically have contracts to remotely service machines, they also have an influx of new users they need to support. Any employee who has previously worked on site , for example on the shop floor of manufacturing, but now works outside the facility, needs online access so that they can continue to do their jobs. Third-party contractors who previously offered specialist services such as production optimisation now do need remote access to specific equipment to help their contract and ensure smooth operation of production lines.

Action:

In times such as these, where any company is decreasing on-site workers, the need to protect OT networks from threats raised by remote users, including employees and third-party vendors, through unmanaged and unmonitored access is growing. Consider solutions that provide control granularity, audit access capabilities, and additional protection measures, such as password vaulting and safe file transfer, so that risk can be mitigated.

OT networks are still a black box for security teams, in spite of their ubiquity; they just don’t have the telemetry to see and track these environments. When the core business processes, digital transformation strategies and the willingness of staff to do their jobs are at risk, successful OT protection needs to become just as omnipresent. It is what helps the company to grow and realize its full potential.

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