OT Security Best Practices
Improve your OT security with proactive risk management and holistic security for industrial control and cyber-physical systems.
Operational technology (OT) is critical in managing various industrial processes, from factories and power plants to automotive production lines. It encompasses hardware and software systems that monitor, control, and automate industrial operations, thus optimizing efficiency, precision, and reliability. However, with the increasing digitization and connectivity of such systems, the importance of OT cybersecurity has risen significantly.
OT security best practices involve safeguarding these operational technologies from cyber threats to ensure industrial processes' continuity, safety, and efficiency. This article explores the significance of OT in industrial management, examines the challenges associated with its security, and outlines best practices to enhance OT security and operational resilience.
Operational Technology (OT) security is critically important for various reasons and relevant to several stakeholders in energy, manufacturing, and automotive industries. Here's why OT security is vital and for whom:
Oil & Gas – Operational technology controls extraction, refining, and distribution processes within the oil and gas sector. A breach in OT security can lead to catastrophic consequences, including environmental disasters, production disruptions, and the endangerment of human lives. For example, a cyberattack against oil refineries could result in explosions, fires, and pollution, causing irreparable damage to the environment and the reputation of targeted companies.
Manufacturing – Manufacturers extensively employ OT to orchestrate assembly lines, manage inventory, and optimize production processes. An OT network controls robotics, sensors, and machinery, enabling seamless production and quality control.
Its various processes are intricately interlinked, where any interruptions to production workflows can lead to missed deadlines, increased costs, and damaged customer relationships. Moreover, the synchronization of machinery and sensors requires continuous communication; any disruption can disrupt the entire production line, leading to defective products, production delays, operational setbacks, and financial losses.
Compromising OT security in a manufacturing facility might also open a door for industrial espionage, where intellectual property (IP) theft can impact a company’s competitive advantage. It could also expose vulnerabilities in supply chains, disrupting operations across multiple companies.
Automotive – This industry employs OT networks to manage production lines, quality control systems, and supply chain operations. A breach in your OT security could potentially halt production, leading to delayed vehicle launches while affecting brand reputation, consumer trust, and financial stability. In a worst-case scenario, compromised OT systems might lead to defects in safety-critical components, thereby risking driver and passenger safety.
Integrating OT cybersecurity into industrial processes presents a unique set of challenges, with downtime being a primary concern. Unlike traditional IT systems, where downtime primarily affects data access and services, downtime can lead to severe operational disruptions and financial losses in an industrial context.
Within a factory, for example—where multiple processes are interdependent—a cyberattack leading to downtime can result in production stoppages, missed deadlines, and damaged customer relationships. The intricate coordination of machines, sensors, and controllers requires uninterrupted communication, where any disruption can cause a domino effect throughout the production process. This can lead to increased costs and decreased productivity, negatively impacting a company’s bottom line.
The convergence of your information technology (IT) with your OT network has increased the threat landscape for industrial systems. Cybercriminals now target vulnerabilities within such interconnected systems to gain unauthorized access, disrupt operations, and/or steal valuable information. Such systems' complexity and insecure legacy components often make them more vulnerable to attacks.
A comprehensive, robust strategy encompassing technology, people, and processes is essential to address OT cybersecurity challenges and mitigate downtime risks.
Human factors also play a crucial role in maintaining operational technology security:
Effective processes ensure consistent and efficient OT security practices:
The difference between IT and OT security lies in the context and consequences of security breaches. While IT security primarily focuses on data protection and network integrity, operational technology security goes beyond, safeguarding industrial operations and critical infrastructure.
You can improve their OT security by embracing a holistic approach that integrates technology, people, and processes. By adopting best practices such as network segmentation, vigilant monitoring, comprehensive training, and well-defined incident response protocols, you can enhance your organization’s operational resilience and mitigate risks posed by cyber threats to your OT systems.
OTORIO’s risk-based approach provides the following OT security best practices:
The best way to improve your OT security is by following the above best practice recommendations and implementing a robust OT security strategy using the OTORIO platform. OTORIO’s proactive risk management technology assesses OT cybersecurity threats by analyzing and visualizing four key components – threat, likelihood, vulnerability, and impact – and provides risk mitigation actions prioritized according to actual exposure and potential impact on operations. The OTORIO platform enables you to achieve an integrated, holistic security strategy for industrial control systems (ICS) and cyber-physical systems (CPS).
In an era of increasing connectivity and digitization, robust OT security is no longer an option but is necessary to ensure your industrial processes' safety, efficiency, and sustainability.
Our platform assists you in quickly identifying and assessing cyber threats to your industrial processes, enabling you to take proactive steps in protecting against potential cyber-attacks.
Get a full demonstration of OTORIO’s full capabilities.
What are the roles of OT security?
OT security is essential for preventing cyber threats and malicious activities in organizations with industrial processes and critical infrastructure. It ensures the safety and efficiency of these processes and promotes sustainability across the entire organization. The key responsibilities of OT security include protecting valuable assets, protecting individuals, maintaining the integrity of supply chain management, and ensuring compliance with industry regulations. Implementing a robust OT security strategy is vital for ensuring operational resilience and protecting business integrity in the face of rising cyber risks.
What is an OT security framework?
The OT security framework is a well-structured and comprehensive set of tools and processes designed to safeguard industrial processes and assets across the entire organization. With this framework, organizations can efficiently detect, assess, and respond to cyber threats in their environment. OTORIO offers an integrated platform with unified frameworks for industrial security, enabling quick detection and mitigation of vulnerabilities before they escalate into threats.
What are the components of the OT security framework?
The OT security framework comprises key components such as risk management, policy and governance, asset management, vulnerability assessment, threat intelligence, incident response, audit, and compliance. Organizations can swiftly detect and address potential threats by seamlessly integrating these components into a unified platform, ensuring secure and protected processes.
What is the difference between IT security and OT security?
The primary difference between IT and OT security lies in their scope and application. IT security is focused on protecting the information associated with an organization’s network, systems, applications, and data. In contrast, OT security focuses on safeguarding industrial control systems and other connected physical devices that are used to monitor and manipulate physical processes within a production environment. To guarantee optimal security, both aspects must be considered and addressed.
How does an integrated OT security platform help with security?
An integrated platform allows organizations to implement a unified approach to security, enabling them to uniformly deploy solutions across their IT and OT environments. This centralized platform ensures seamless communication, consistency, and effective collaboration between teams responsible for different areas of the organization’s infrastructure.