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Operational Technologies and Cybersecurity
Technology - Aug 21, 2020
Operational technology comprises of the hardware and software which controls the
industrial processes. These processes include the critical systems which are
responsible for functions such as energy and food production, water treatment etc.
Any cybersecurity breach into these systems can be hazardous to the industrial
operational efficiency, lead to power outages, environmental desecration and even
It is imperative to have a specific cybersecurity strategy to handle OT processes.
In this blog, we will look at the key areas of OT, understand its importance and lay
a map to design and develop the OT cybersecurity strategy.
IT and OT convergence
OT has long been treated separately from IT and as time passed, the cybersecurity
spending for IT increased whereas OT lagged behind, creating a vacuum which exposed
industries to serious vulnerabilities. The heavy dependence on OT devices does not
allow any downtime, thus many of OT devices are not timely being updated or patched
making these systems more prone to attacks.
The situation now has changed. Systems are now interdependent and integrated with
one another. This has been made possible by digital transformation and adoption of
new technologies like Industrial IoT. This has shifted the focus back to OT as the
OT functions can be targeted via the established IT networks and the inter
OT security is becoming a priority for industrial organizations and the reasons, as
stated above is the interdependence and interconnected systems. Technologies such as
IoT, SCADA and smart sensors have enhanced industrial efficiency and productivity,
but they have also exposed the OT to vulnerabilities. This brings us to an urgent
need to encompass OT processes with industrial, asset-intensive environments over a
secure network which is powered by dedicated cybersecurity services.
Challenges to OT security
a. Air gap: OT systems are generally separated from IT systems by an air gap. It is
important to regularly audit and scan these air gaps to ensure connectivity.
b. Trainings: There is a serious lack of training in Industries as employees are not
given adequate knowledge to maintain good OT security practices.
c. Recovery planning and Incident response: Industries often fail to document
recovery and backup methods. This also leads to poor incident response in case of
d. Network segmentation: Industries need to utilize the zone and conduit concepts
when dealing with OT security. They can limit the incidents by controlling the
access to specific zones.
e. Lack of awareness: There is a lack of awareness about the OT security
vulnerabilities. This is the reason; companies are not ready to invest to protect
their OT systems and production devices.
Components of OT security strategy
A comprehensive OT security strategy starts with a thorough assessment of cyber risks
pertaining to vulnerable devices, security practices and firewall measures.
This assessment consists of three major steps:
Collection: - This step incorporates methods (automated or manual) to
collate network data and identify vulnerable devices, including network
Analysis: The next step includes analyzing the collated data to
establish an OT network framework which would adhere to industry standards.
Projection: The last step of assessment includes real time alerts
which would address all operational issues in a short turnover time.
The next key step involves risk assessment which includes documenting asset
information such as device(s) manufacturers, firmware’s etc. in order to identify
the possible vulnerabilities. This step also includes formulating possible recovery
plans against critical threats.
Policy and Procedure audit is the next step which involves reviewing and auditing OT
cybersecurity policies. Then comes network segmentation and remote access which
incorporates design and deployment of proper segmentation by leveraging technologies
such as IDN, HIP etc.
Last step of an OT security strategy includes measuring and accessing the current OT
cybersecurity state and comparing the figures with previous audits. This also
comprise of establishing audit and review cycles for network sites.
Best Operational Technology Cybersecurity Practices
Industries should consider the following operational Technologies best practices with
respect to Cybersecurity.
1) It is important to maintain an accurate inventory of control system devices. In
addition, these devices should not be exposed to external networks.
2) Network segmentation and firewalls should be put in place.
3) Industries should use role based remote access methods with proper password
4) Awareness regarding threats should be channeled. Industries should regularly
update their cybersecurity system with necessary packages and updates.
5) A clear policy on mobile devices should be established and enforced.
6) Industries should implement a thorough employee cybersecurity training program
and update it regularly. This way employees will be updated with evolving threats.
7) Establish a comprehensive cybersecurity incident response plan.
ISSQUARED’s Cybersecurity offerings
ISSQUARED Inc. is one of the fastest growing IT infrastructure, cybersecurity and
managed services firm. ISSQUARED can build you a comprehensive cybersecurity
strategy which is designed to safeguard your IT and OT system against any potential
breaches. The set of cybersecurity solutions include:
• Network security
• Endpoint security
• Cloud security
• Data security
• Security Intelligence
• Vulnerability management
• Business continuity
The above listed cybersecurity solutions include domains such as identity management,
virtualization and cloud security, end point protection and vulnerability testing.
OT is a new cybersecurity domain and our experts guide you in every step of the way
as we access the threats and build you a comprehensive solution. In addition, we
offer round the clock support to answer and resolve any issues.
To explore the full suite of ISSQUARED’s cybersecurity offerings, please click on the
link here. For any query, please reach out one of our
experts. We would be delighted to showcase our services. You can reach out to us at
email@example.com or call us at +1
Operational Technologies (OT) are integrating into the larger IT landscape and this
is making them vulnerable to cybersecurity risks. Modern technologies like sensor
technology (IIOT), robotics is fueling rapid digital transformation in the field of
Operational technologies and leaders should establish a proper protocol which would
ensure total protection of OT systems against any cyber threats. The major steps
include assessment, analysis, devising a concrete plan followed by regular audits.
Organizations can consider the best practices listed in the blog while formulating
their OT cybersecurity plans.