This is the final piece in our series on Vulnerability Management (VM) in OT, rounding out the cycle of a vulnerability management program by examining the monitoring phase, which is especially difficult in OT cyber security. Our other posts covered:

Vulnerability and risk monitoring

Monitoring can refer to monitoring the web for new threats, monitoring assets for changes, reporting on and demonstrating current risk rankings, or monitoring compliance with expected or tolerated risk levels.

This blog will focus on aspects of monitoring as they practically apply to an OT environment, as well as a look at challenges with current methods and tool sets relative to the agent-based approach. The intent is to show how an OT-specific tool built by OT, for OT, makes significant improvements over current, poorly-adapted IT tools.

Monitoring new threats

There is no shortage of threat intelligence feeds, risk registers or capable threat hunters to share cyber risks you should worry about. The challenge for OT in using this data to improve insight is in taking the threat details and applying them to your specific assets.

This is a challenge on two fronts:

First, how many of that specific asset (by OS, software, running service, etc.) do you have, where are they and are they important? Remember in OT, not all assets are created equal. A significant risk on a critical asset is a big deal. But on the other hand, a network-based attack vector for assets in layer two of your architecture might remain safe if delayed or deferred.

Second, how do you monitor assets for expected changes? What if the changes are local to that asset and not communicated? What if that asset is not monitored? Passive detection tools need to hear specifics from the asset. Real-time reporting on specific parameters allows for near instant visibility, full asset coverage (by asset type, location) and comprehensive monitoring (all aspects of the asset, not just that which gets transmitted).

Data Relevance

During the discussion about vulnerability scanners, we identified challenges with scanning, including the details identified, the assets in scope, and the timing or frequency of scanning. These restrictions result in a subset of asset data and risk profiles that age immediately at the conclusion of a scan. The alternative is an agent-based approach, providing significantly greater asset detail which can be refreshed as frequently as every ten minutes.

When adding reporting and monitoring to your risk management, it is clear that a real-time, comprehensive asset profile relative to known risks is significantly more accurate, relevant and useful. As you tune assets to reduce unnecessary ports, services, and software, the closed loop nature of an agent-based approach means your risk profile per asset updates in real-time as you remediate risks through software patching or applying compensating controls.


Vulnerability scanning tools and passive listening tools provide significant insight and intelligence into pure cyber risk. But when these vulnerability management tools are used in OT environments during real-world challenges, their value wanes.

Using an agent-based approach provides detailed asset characteristics in real-time to significantly improve vulnerability management capabilities. Closed loop insight, granular visibility and control and real-time asset status are just the start.

From identification to remediation to reporting, there is a better solution for vulnerability management in OT.

Related Resources


Verve Value Prop

This document outlines how the Verve Security Center (VSC) platform provides far greater insights and coverage for asset awareness and system monitoring through our superior architecture and also includes patch management, configuration management, incident response, and other requirements of the NIST CSF. The following sections walk through the origin and philosophy of Verve and examine how our solution works and offers comparatives to other technology options often seen in the market.

Read the Story

Get Ready for CMMC: Improve OT Cyber Maturity in 30 Days

Prepare for CMMC compliance by creating a roadmap that improves OT cybersecurity maturity quickly, demonstrates action for your executives, and provides a long-term strategy for effective risk management.

Read the Story

ICS Security Achievements in 2020

Looking back at what Verve accomplished for the OT security industry in 2020 and looking ahead to predictions for 2021

Read the Story

Subscribe to stay in the loop

Subscribe now to receive the latest OT cyber security expertise, trends and best practices to protect your industrial systems.