What Are OT Devices and How Are They Used?



OTORIO’s Solution


OTORIO’s Benefits

  • Ability to conduct a safe operational security posture assessment without disturbing ongoing operations.
  • Improved ROI on pre-existing security controls and solutions by leveraging existing technology investments.
  • A comprehensive security assessment report, providing senior management with a full picture of the company’s OT cyber security posture.
  • Quick risk mitigation and hardening of site-specific OT network risks and vulnerabilities.
  • The company went from only relying upon detection to adopting a continuous, proactive risk-based assessment, mitigation, and management strategy to secure its OT environment.

Operational technology (OT) devices play an essential role in industrial settings. Comprised of specialized hardware and software, they’re specifically designed to monitor and control various processes within industries, ensuring smooth operation of critical infrastructure.

Understanding the definition, types, and importance of OT devices is essential for comprehending their significance in industrial environments. Unlike traditional IT components, they attend to operational control rather than data storage or communication. They interact with physical processes and machinery to regulate and optimize their performance.

OT Device Types

OT devices encompass a wide range of equipment used in various industrial sectors. They can include programmable logic controllers (PLCs), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, distributed control systems (DCS), industrial control systems (ICS), human-machine interfaces (HMIs), and remote terminal units (RTUs). Each OT device type has its specific functions and capabilities, catering to various operational needs within industries.

The importance of OT Security in Industrial Settings

Ensuring reliable and efficient operation of industrial processes, OT devices enable real-time monitoring and control of machinery, thus facilitating better decision-making and enhancing productivity. Playing an essential role in optimizing industrial processes, they reduce downtime, improve safety, and maximize operational efficiency. Their integration with industrial IoT (Internet of Things) systems further enables data-driven insights and predictive maintenance.

Watch the webinar OT Security for Industry & Critical Infrastructure

What are OT Devices Used For?

  • Monitoring and control of industrial processes

    OT devices are extensively used for monitoring and controlling various aspects of industrial processes. They collect data from sensors and other equipment, enabling operators to closely monitor parameters such as temperature, pressure, and flow rates. By analyzing this data in real time, operators can ensure that the processes are running smoothly and intervene if any abnormalities or deviations occur.

  • Automation of tasks

    One of the significant advantages of OT devices is their ability to automate tasks within industrial environments. These devices can be programmed to perform repetitive and time-consuming tasks, reducing the burden on human operators and minimizing the chance of errors. Automation improves operational efficiency, accelerates production processes, and enables consistent and accurate results.

  • IoT system integration for data analysis

    OT devices can be integrated with IoT systems to enable advanced data analysis and decision-making. By collecting and transmitting data to centralized platforms, these devices enable the analysis of large volumes of data, leading to valuable insights and actionable information. Integration with IoT systems enhances predictive maintenance capabilities, identifies potential issues before they escalate, and facilitates proactive decision-making.

Cyber Threats and OT Security

In today's interconnected world, OT devices are vulnerable to various cyber threats that can have severe consequences for industrial processes. OT cybersecurity issues can lead to operational disruptions, equipment damage, financial losses, and even jeopardize human safety. It’s imperative to protect OT devices from cyber threats through robust cybersecurity measures. Common cyber threats include:

  • Malware and ransomware

    Malicious software programs can infect OT devices and disrupt their normal operations. Malware can spread through various means, including phishing emails, compromised websites, or infected removable media. Ransomware, a specific type of malware, encrypts critical data and demands a ransom to restore access.

  • Phishing attacks

    These attacks attempt to steal sensitive information by tricking users into revealing their credentials or downloading malicious software. OT device operators and industrial staff can be targeted through deceptive emails or false login pages, compromising the security of the devices and your industrial network.

  • DDoS attacks

    Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks overload the network or OT devices with a flood of requests, rendering them unable to perform their intended functions. Such attacks disrupt industrial processes and compromise the availability and reliability of critical infrastructure.

  • Insider threats

    Malicious actions can be undertaken by individuals within your organization who have authorized access to OT devices. Such threats can be intentional or unintentional, resulting in unauthorized access, data breaches, and/or manipulation of industrial processes.

  • Supply chain attacks

    These exploit weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the OT device supply chain, targeting the integrity of integral software or hardware components. Attackers compromise trusted suppliers to inject malicious code or tamper with devices during the manufacturing or distribution process.

  • Zero-day vulnerabilities

    Unknown OT security weaknesses can be exploited by cybercriminals before developers can release software patches or updates to address them. Such vulnerabilities can be used to gain unauthorized access or control over your OT devices.

  • Data exfiltration

    This involves the unauthorized extraction of sensitive or valuable data from OT devices. Infiltrators can steal industrial secrets, proprietary information, or critical process data, compromising the competitiveness and security of your industrial organization.

OT Device Security Considerations

Securing OT devices requires a holistic approach that addresses specific risks and vulnerabilities associated with their deployment. Important considerations for ensuring OT security include:

  • Associated OT cybersecurity risks

    Understanding risks associated with OT devices is essential for developing appropriate security measures. OT devices could have outdated software, misconfigurations, lack of encryption, weak authentication mechanisms, or vulnerabilities inherited from their design or architecture. Moreover, factors such as remote access, interconnectedness, and third-party integrations can introduce additional risks.

  • Best practices for OT security

    Implementing best practices for OT security can significantly enhance devices protection against cyber threats. These include regularly updating firmware and software, implementing strong access controls and authentication mechanisms, segmenting networks, encrypting communications, monitoring for anomalies, conducting periodic security assessments, and providing OT cybersecurity training to all personnel.

  • Case studies of security breaches and their impact – Having a look at real-world case studies of breaches involving OT security can provide valuable insights into the consequences of lax security measures. Analyzing such incidents can help your organization understand potential risks and adopt proactive security measures. Reviewing incidents such as the Stuxnet worm, the Ukrainian power grid attack, and the Triton malware attack on industrial safety systems can provide useful insights. And recently the US FBI director publicly identified the risk posed by a Chinese cyber operation believed to have compromised thousands of internet-connected devices.

Future Trends in OT Devices

  • Technology advancements

    OT device technology continues to evolve, resulting in more sophisticated and capable devices. These advancements include increased computing power, enhanced connectivity options, improved sensor technology, miniaturization, and enhanced interoperability. The push toward more intelligent and adaptive devices enables better automation, data analysis, and decision-making.

  • Integration of artificial intelligence in OT systems

    AI is increasingly being integrated with OT systems to enable advanced analytics, predictive maintenance, and anomaly detection. AI-powered algorithms can analyze large volumes of data collected by OT devices in real-time, facilitating more efficient and proactive decision making. By detecting patterns, anomalies, and potential issues, AI enhances the overall security and operational efficiency of OT devices.

  • Impacts of industry 4.0 on OT device development

    The emergence of Industry 4.0, characterized by the fusion of physical and digital technologies, significantly impacts OT device development of. Industry 4.0 concepts such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), digital twins, and cyber-physical systems are influencing the design and capabilities of OT devices. Such advancements enable better integration, interoperability, and data-driven decision making in industrial settings.


OT devices play a vital role in industrial settings, enabling the monitoring, control, and optimization of critical processes. However, these devices are vulnerable to various cyber threats, requiring robust cybersecurity measures to protect them. By implementing best practices, understanding emerging trends, and adhering to regulatory requirements, your organization can ensure its OT cybersecurity while harnessing the benefits they offer in terms of operational efficiency and data-driven insights.

OTORIO empowers your industrial organization to proactively reduce OT cyber risks. With OTORIO, your IT and OT teams are truly interconnected and streamlined for security collaboration. 


What is the difference between SCADA and OT devices?

OT devices encompass various technologies used for monitoring and controlling industrial processes, including SCADA systems (a specific OT system type that typically communicates with remote devices and collects real-time data). While SCADA systems are an essential component, OT devices encompass a broader range of elements used in industrial environments.

Are legacy OT devices still in use today?

Yes, many industrial environments still rely on legacy OT devices for their operations. This refers to older devices deployed before the advent of modern technologies and cybersecurity measures. Such devices might lack certain security features and could be more vulnerable to cyber threats. It’s essential to evaluate their security risks and implement appropriate measures to protect them.

What are the regulatory requirements for OT security?

Regulatory requirements for securing OT devices vary across different industries and regions. Organizations operating industrial environments are often subject to industry-specific regulations and standards. For example, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework provides guidelines for securing critical infrastructure, while standards such as ISA/IEC 62443 focus specifically on the security of industrial automation and control systems. Compliance with such regulations and standards helps your organization establish a robust OT security posture.