What is Operational Technology (OT) Security?



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.

Explore the definition, components, challenges, and benefits of OT security and its importance for industrial systems and infrastructure from cyber threats.

Safeguarding the Backbone of Industrial Systems

The convergence of operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) has revolutionized industries, enabling businesses to optimize processes and efficiency. So as OT and IT intertwine, robust security for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) becomes paramount in safeguarding critical infrastructure, manufacturing plants, power grids, and other essential systems from cyber threats.

But such integration also brings new challenges and vulnerabilities, making OT security a critical aspect of safeguarding industrial systems and infrastructures. This article delves into the world of security, discussing the definition of OT, its components, challenges, and benefits, while emphasizing the significance of selecting the right OT security vendor.

OT security defined

Unlike traditional IT security, which predominantly focuses on data and information protection, OT security addresses the physical devices and control systems that drive core industrial operations. This includes all hardware and software used in industrial control systems (ICS) to manage, monitor, and control physical processes.

As more industries embrace digital transformation and embrace IIoT technologies, OT security importance grows exponentially. Encompassing various practices, technologies, and strategies to protect assets, related processes, and underlying infrastructure, such robust security safeguards your essential systems from cyber threats.

Components of OT security

Access control, data integrity, means of authentication, encryption, network segmentation, and anomaly detection comprise OT security. 

  • Access control ensures that only authorized personnel can access specific OT systems, reducing the risk of unauthorized manipulation. 

  • Data integrity warrants the accuracy and consistency of data, thus preventing tampering and ensuring reliable decision making. 

  • Authentication methods verify the identity of users and devices to protect against unauthorized access. 

  • Encryption ensures confidentiality and safeguards data transmission between devices and networks. 

  • Network segmentation separates essential OT assets from less secure areas, thereby limiting the impact of potential breaches.

  • Anomaly detection identifies abnormal behavior or patterns; it helps in promptly detecting and responding to potential cyber threats.

Industrial IoT (IIoT) and operational technology security challenges

IT and OT teams have historically operated in isolated environments; the former focused on data confidentiality and privacy, while the latter prioritized safety and reliability. Integration has now blurred that divide. Unauthorized access could result in operational disruptions, safety breaches, and financial losses. A cohesive approach is necessary to protect against potential threats, so balancing the priorities of both teams during integration is essential.

IT–OT convergence

The merging of OT with IT can greatly streamline operations, optimize processes, and enhance productivity. This enables real-time data exchange and analysis, facilitating data-driven decision making. That said, integrating the two environments can expose potentially perilous infrastructure to cyber threats from the internet, making robust security measures essential to mitigate your risk.

Cybersecurity concerns with IT and OT integration

The mismatch between traditional IT cybersecurity practices and the unique requirements of OT environments can cause apprehension: 

  • Device proliferation – The increasing number of interconnected devices in industrial environments expands your attack surface, offering bad actors more opportunities to disrupt your operations. And this makes it more difficult to monitor and secure all entry points.

  • Legacy systems – Making them susceptible to attacks, many industrial facilities still operate with yesteryear’s hardware, software, and processes that often lack modern security features. This potentially introduces new vulnerabilities.

  • Diverse technologies – IT and OT systems are built using different technologies, making it challenging to implement uniform security measures across both domains.

  • Skills gap and differing priorities – Lack of awareness among OT personnel about cybersecurity solutions is an issue. Finding skilled professionals who understand both OT and IT security can be a challenge for industries in implementing robust security measures. 

  • Connectivity and remote access – Remote access to OT systems for maintenance and monitoring purposes can introduce security risks. And as technology continues to rapidly evolve, ensuring that integrated systems remain secure requires constant monitoring and updates.

  • Limited patch management – Patching critical vulnerabilities in OT systems is challenging due to system downtime and compatibility concerns.

Read our guide to prevalent IT and OT cybersecurity standards

Why is OT security important for your business?

Industrial operations are critical to many sectors. Any disruption can result in severe consequences, including production downtime, financial losses, and even safety hazards. Additionally, industrial regulations and standards compliance demands robust OT security measures. And protecting your sensitive data and intellectual property (IP) from cyber espionage and theft is paramount to your business continuity and reputation. 

Three security benefits include:

  • Control – A comprehensive OT security program provides centralized control, enabling administrators to monitor and manage security measures across diverse OT assets from a single platform. This enhances efficiency and reduces the likelihood of oversight or misconfigurations.

  • Monitoring – All-inclusive security permits continuous monitoring of OT environments, enabling real-time threat detection and response. Such a proactive approach helps identify potential vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

  • Visibility – A far-reaching security program provides visibility into your entire OT infrastructure, including connected devices and their interactions. This aids in better understanding your entire environment and identifying potential risks or deviations from normal behavior.

How to choose an OT security vendor 

During your evaluation process, consider such factors as:

  • experience in industrial environments
  • a strong OT security track record
  • a comprehensive solution portfolio
  • its ability to scale according to your business needs
  • a commitment to continuous research and development to stay ahead of emerging threats

Securing industrial networks with OTORIO OT security

Operational technology security is vital to protecting your critical infrastructure and industrial systems from cyber threats. As industries continue to embrace digital transformation and IT–OT convergence, all-encompassing security measures become ever more critical. Adopting a robust security program ensures operational continuity and integrity. 

Careful evaluation of a security vendor, such as OTORIO, can provide you with the expertise and tools needed to navigate the complex landscape of OT security and thrive in a digitally interconnected world. OTORIO is a leading provider of comprehensive OT security solutions. With years of experience, we offer a tailored security program that ensures robust control, monitoring, and visibility across industrial networks. Our team of experts helps your organization tackle complex OT security challenges and ensure protection of your critical infrastructure.

Get a demo to learn more about how OTORIO protects operational systems.


What is SCADA and ICS?

Supervisory control and data acquisition is a control system architecture that enables remote monitoring and control of industrial processes and infrastructure. It typically involves a central control system (supervisory) that communicates with remote devices, sensors, and instruments used in the field. Industrial control systems refer to the suite of systems used in industrial settings, including SCADA, distributed control systems (DCS), and programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

What is the difference between IT and OT security?

Dealing with the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information on digital assets such as computers and servers, IT security focuses on protecting data and information systems. Ensuring the safety, reliability, and resilience of operational processes, OT security safeguards physical assets and ICS used in essential infrastructure and industrial processes. 

What are three types of OT? 

  • Manufacturing – Used in industrial manufacturing processes to control assembly lines, robotics, and production machinery.

  • Infrastructure – Management of essential infrastructure, such as power generation, water treatment, and transportation systems.

  • Enterprise – Refers to technology used in industries such as oil and gas, mining, and utilities for exploration, extraction, and distribution operations.