OT security is undergoing a significant transformation

New technologies like Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud computing, and AI are boosting productivity and efficiency. However, they’re also expanding the threat landscape, creating more entry points for cyberattacks. The growing number of connected devices, estimated to reach 25 billion by 2025, combined with the convergence of IT and OT systems and the rise of remote work, has significantly increased the attack surface for OT.

This means that traditional security measures are no longer enough. We need to adopt a proactive, multi-layered approach that addresses the unique challenges of OT environments. This includes implementing new technologies like AI-powered threat detection and automation, developing comprehensive security frameworks, educating employees, and fostering a strong security culture to ensure cybersecurity is a core component of operational resilience. It’s about understanding that cybersecurity is not just an IT issue — it’s a core component of operational resilience.

This blog post outlines five practical strategies to prepare for the future of OT security:

These strategies, grounded in industry best practices and real-world case studies, are a roadmap for organizations looking to enhance their OT security posture and protect their critical assets now and in the future. 

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Adopt a programmatic approach

A structured, programmatic approach to OT security is essential for building a robust defense against cyber threats. Implementing frameworks such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) helps create a comprehensive OT security program that covers all critical aspects, from asset identification and protection to detection, response, and recovery. 

Key Actions: 

  • Framework adoption: Utilize industry-standard frameworks like NIST CSF to guide your OT security efforts. These frameworks provide a structured approach to managing and reducing cybersecurity risk. 
  • Comprehensive coverage: Ensure your program addresses all aspects of security, including people, processes, and technology. This holistic approach helps in creating a balanced and resilient security posture. 
  • Continuous improvement: Regularly review and update your security program to adapt to new threats and technologies. Continuous improvement ensures that your security measures evolve in line with the changing threat landscape. 
Watch on Demand:
How to Prepare for the Future of OT Cybersecurity

The evolving OT cybersecurity landscape faces new risks from remote work, IIoT devices, and cloud tools. Learn how to develop a resilient, proactive long-term security strategy in this on-demand webinar with Verve’s Rick Kaun and Rockwell Automation’s Nicholas Creath. as they discuss 2024’s top trends and practical strategies to protect your sensitive OT systems and strengthen your cyber posture.

Focus on endpoint security

Endpoints, such as sensors, controllers, and workstations, are often the most vulnerable points in an OT environment. Securing these endpoints is critical to protecting your OT assets from cyber threats. 

Key Actions: 

  • Endpoint Protection Tools: Implement anti-malware, antivirus, and other endpoint protection tools to safeguard your devices from malicious software. 
  • Secure Configurations: Regularly update and secure configurations for all endpoints. This includes disabling unnecessary services and ensuring that all devices are configured according to best practices. 
  • Patch Management: Maintain a rigorous patch management process to ensure all devices are up-to-date with the latest security patches. Regular patching helps in mitigating vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers. 

Leverage AI and automation

AI and automation are great tools to enhance your OT security posture by identifying threats, automating responses, and managing large volumes of data more efficiently. These technologies provide predictive insights and streamline security operations. 

Key Actions: 

  • AI-Driven Tools: Invest in AI-driven cybersecurity tools to improve detection and response. AI helps identify patterns and anomalies that may indicate a cyber attack. 
  • Automation: Automate repetitive and time-consuming security tasks to free up valuable resources. Automation helps in areas such as log analysis, incident response, and vulnerability management. 
  • Predictive Maintenance: Use AI for predictive maintenance to identify and address potential vulnerabilities before they are exploited. Predictive maintenance helps in proactively managing the health and security of your OT assets. 

Implement secure remote access

The shift towards remote work, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has introduced new security challenges. Ensuring secure remote access is essential to protect your organization from potential breaches and maintain operational integrity. 

Key Actions: 

  • VPN and MFA: Ensure remote workers use Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for secure access. These measures provide an additional layer of security by encrypting data and requiring multiple forms of verification. 
  • Strong Home Networks: Educate employees on securing their home networks and avoiding public Wi-Fi for work-related activities. Secure home networks are less vulnerable to attacks. 
  • Third-Party Access: Implement strict policies and procedures for third-party vendors accessing your network to ensure they follow your security protocols. Third-party access should be closely monitored and controlled to prevent unauthorized access. 

Interested in learning more about protecting your OT networks?

Check out our in-depth blog post, "Securing OT Networks in a Connected World," to discover attacker tactics and practical defense strategies.

Develop a comprehensive asset management plan 

Effective asset management is foundational to OT security. Knowing what assets are in your network, their configurations, and their vulnerabilities is essential for maintaining a secure environment. 

Key Actions: 

  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits to identify and address any discrepancies or security gaps. Audits help in ensuring that all assets are properly managed and secured. 
  • Vulnerability Management: Implement a robust vulnerability management plan to continuously monitor and mitigate risks associated with your assets. A vulnerability management plan helps in prioritizing and addressing vulnerabilities based on their criticality. 

Secure Your OT Future with Proactive and Comprehensive Strategies

Preparing for the future of OT security requires a proactive and comprehensive approach. By adopting a programmatic approach, focusing on endpoint security, leveraging AI and automation, implementing secure remote access, and developing a comprehensive asset management plan, organizations significantly enhance their security posture and mitigate risks effectively. Embracing these strategies will help you navigate the evolving landscape of OT security, ensuring your organization remains resilient against emerging threats.

Ready to secure your OT's future?

We can help. Contact us to discuss a tailored security plan for your organization.

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