Operational technology refers to the use of computers and computer software to keep tabs on and manage mechanical systems (OT). From keeping tabs on vital services to directing production machinery, operational technology systems are ubiquitous in asset-heavy sectors. The healthcare sector is one such example. OT is used in many different sectors, including but not limited to manufacturing, oil and gas extraction, electrical generation and distribution, aviation, maritime transportation, rail transportation, and utility companies.
Just what does “OT Security” entail, anyway?
For Gartner, “operational technology security” (OT security) refers to “practises and technologies used to (a) protect people, assets, and information; (b) monitor and/or control physical devices, processes, and events; and (c) initiate state changes to enterprise OT systems.” Many different types of security technologies, such as identity access and management systems, next-generation firewalls (NGFWs), security information and event management (SIEM) systems, and many others, are incorporated into OT security solutions.
OT cyber security was not an issue in the past because OT systems were not connected to the internet. Therefore, they were safe from threats coming from without. Businesses often “bolted on” point solutions to solve specific issues as the scope of digital innovation (DI) initiatives grew and IT and OT networks converged. Due to the increased network complexity caused by these OT security methods, solutions were unable to communicate with one another or offer full visibility.
Where can I find a list of the various components that make up operational technology?
An integral component of “operational technology,” “industrial control systems” (ICS) is an abbreviation for “industrial control systems.” To coordinate and control production in a variety of factories, engineers developed the Industrial Control System (ICS). Common control system types include the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system and the distributed control system (DCS).
Exactly what are IIOT Devices, or those used in the Industrial Internet of Things?
Sensors, monitors, actuators, and other technologies mounted on or in close proximity to OT equipment make up the foundation of operational technology. RPU (Remote processing units), industrial robots, and programmable logic controllers (PLC) are just a few examples of this ubiquitous machinery. These sensors are an example of an IoT device.
OT vs. IT?
Having a firm grasp of the differences between OT and IT is crucial because the two are frequently confused with one another. The domain of information technology (IT) is data management, while the domain of operational technology is equipment control. The main goals of IT are to guarantee the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of data and systems.
What does it mean to “converge IT and OT”?
The development of digital innovations requires communication between IT infrastructure and OT infrastructure. Information technology network components such as processors, storage, and systems management are being linked to operational technology network components like control systems, SCADA, and industrial networks. Physical equipment and IIOT devices collect data that can be used to diagnose issues or find opportunities for efficiency gains thanks to the convergence of IT and OT. IDC cites a second example where customer interaction and service case information, typically housed in a CRM application, can be used to improve supply chain, operations, and product development once aligned with the customer experience. This is just one way in which customer relationship management software can be put to use to better serve customers.
When it comes to OT security, there can be no compromises.
The operational technology team oversees the procedures that, if breached, could cause interruptions to life-saving services and, ultimately, human deaths. The smooth operation of life-saving services, water treatment facilities, traffic control, and other similar responsibilities relies heavily on operational technology solutions. The consequences of a successful attack on OT organisations that are not directly responsible for critical infrastructure can still be severe. A hacker could compromise the facility’s safety checks, allowing them to send out potentially poisonous food, for example.