Over the past several years, companies that operate industrial environments have taken advantage of digital transformation to help them become more competitive in their respective sectors. From the internet of things (IoT) to the industrial internet of things (IIoT) to Industry 4.0, the next industrial revolution is upon us as companies leverage the ability to connect devices that were previously not connected to the internet.
IT components like servers, databases and even cloud services are being brought into operational technology (OT) environments and can introduce various benefits to industrial processes, such as helping organizations improve uptimes, performance, quality and productivity, maintain safety, and help reduce maintenance costs and risk. All these can result in increased profits for organizations that adopt these solutions.
However, as with any digital transformation, there are some challenges that can arise. As OT environments, especially with legacy systems in place, become increasingly connected, they may inherit risks that were previously the domain of the IT environment. As a result, they can become vulnerable to cybersecurity threats and threat actors that may not have affected them in the past.
Some Definitions First — What Is OT Security?
Operational technology is the use of computerized systems to manage, monitor, and control the physical state of other systems. Gartner defines OT security as the practices and technologies used to protect people, assets and information involved in the monitoring and/or control of physical devices, processes and events.
OT security is fundamentally different from IT security in the sense that IT systems are typically de ..