Traditional OT structures are inflexible and predetermined. They aren't as adaptable as their IT equivalents since they were designed to do specific tasks. Vulnerabilities from larger and increasingly integrated ecosystems increases the risk of attacks on these platforms.

Protecting operational technology (OT) networks is vital for critical infrastructure. However, you need to understand what is OT security before you can grasp the reasons to deploy it. We will examine the criticality of infrastructure and the need for OT cybersecurity legislation.

What Is OT Security?

OT security is based on monitoring and regulating physical equipment. It prevents assaults on ICSs like SCADA while managing essential facilities.

As OT and interconnected technologies merge, adequate security measures are required. Changes like these to OT networks are part of Industry 4.0.

Wide Variety of OT Systems

1. "Industrial Control Systems" or "ICS"

One of the essential types of OT systems is ICS which regulates production, process management, rail and sea transport, etc.

ICS governs manufacturing, process management, rail or maritime transport, and other activities.

2. SCADA or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems

Many I/O devices spread out across a broader area contribute to the data collected by SCADA systems. Its foundation is made up of GUI-equipped computers and data networks.

The command control sends PID controllers and PLCs to the terminals. SCADA systems are used in electricity, pipelines, trains, and power transmission.

3. Medical Systems

On-site medical devices include MRI scanners, infusion pumps, ECG machines, and defibrillators.

This uses old OSes and in-house protocols. Insulin pumps, artificial pacemakers, and prenatal monitoring are OT medical systems.

4. DCS Stands for “Distributed Control Systems”

DCS is used in a complex system with several control loops and decentralized management. High dependability and security are standard in refining, manufacturing, and power production industries.

5. Physical Access Control and Building Automation Systems

The industrial complex must be secured, including all design, fabrication, and production areas. Secure air conditioning, heating, elevators, swipe cards, surveillance cameras, and biosecurity equipment.

6. IIoT or Industrial Internet of Things

IIoT needs its own category due to the security risks of wireless devices. This sector is one of the crucial sectors of OT systems.

Why Must OT Security Be Maintained?

With increased connectivity comes increased risks for industrial OT systems. Due to pricey equipment and economic and social consequences, companies preserve industrial networks.

When you mix old technology, hardware upgrade limits, and data-sharing obligations, OT security will get a boost.

Complete cybersecurity is an issue when it neither impedes operations nor raises the danger of violations. A strict security policy and network monitoring tools can secure your operations, personnel, and bottom line.

Why Are Mandatory OT Cybersecurity Regulations Necessary?

The overall system's safety and dependability are the main obstacles in an OT setting. There should be no vulnerabilities or points of failure in the system.

There is a higher risk of cyberattacks when OT systems are integrated into a more extensive cyber network. That’s why OT cybersecurity is needed to get rid of the obstacles. Other vectors can also compromise the security and dependability of an OT system.

Due to the seamless integration of OT, IT, IIoT, and IoT systems, there is no room for human mistakes. Always remember that a hacker may exploit OT devices to access a very secure IT network.

1. Accidental Casualties

According to Mandiant, 95% of OT hacks in 2020 were preceded by access to IT systems. 

It is typical in the aftermath of OT occurrences. Poor network segmentation and a lack of remedies led to WannaCry and NotPetya in 2017 and 2018.

Merck, Mondelez, Maersk, and others lost billions in production and cleanup. When establishing OT security, untargeted, highly-damaging assaults must be considered.

2. The Invasion via Malware on Interchangeable Parts

It is a problem for many manufacturers. Use flash drives with caution in experimental settings or on unsupported platforms. Without caution, unwanted and illegal access may occur as a result.

Things to know:

  • This peripheral was already implemented in other networks. After being used to access your device, there is no telling whether it will remain clean. An attack on the hardware might have consequences for your database as well.
  • Companies should supply anti-virus software and perform security education. IT departments can assist with this.
  • Using OT cyber security will be an excellent way to stop malware from entering a system. They advertise that they can implement security measures in large businesses. Incorporated within these services is protection for the underlying operating technology.
  • Information technology security professionals are familiar with an OT security provider's staff. That's why they will be able to provide a hand while you beef up your network's security.

3. DDoS Attacks and Internet-of-Things Botnets

It's not uncommon for businesses to have many IoT devices on their internal networks. Monitoring PS, grid, condition, and other sensors need multiple devices. Different protocols for communication are used for different systems.

That way, there will be a wide variety of problems every company must solve. Botnet DDoS attacks rise as more firms network IoT devices.

Businesses must understand available cybersecurity measures. In this way, malware attacks and related issues can be avoided.

4. Attacks Caused by Malware Spreading Online

The frequency of malware spreading over the internet is concerning. Since the internet is a shared service, we are all users. Today, many attackers target industrial databases using this strategy.

Things to know:

  • With this risk, sensitive corporate information might be leaked. Several anti-virus solutions can't recognize contemporary threats. In turn, hackers use this vulnerability to their advantage.
  • To keep OT security in check, maintain timely and consistent office and back-end network OS and app monitoring. Doing so may protect your company from malware attacks and potential financial damages.

5. Specialized Attacks From Outsiders

It includes nations, "hacktivists," and profit-driven players. Without effective response and recovery, OT ransomware attacks can be financially catastrophic.

Power grids, pipelines, and pharmaceutical supply chains have all been targeted by nation-states. In light of this, asset owners should consider:

  • Third-party service providers and manufacturers in OT may launch cyber-attacks on industrial enterprises.
  • OT systems could be changed using third-party software or hardware. Advanced attackers may employ backdoors in organizations.
  • Entrepreneurial bad guys may assault industrial enterprises due to economic or political turmoil. Attackers may target dishonest or unethical companies for their own aims.

Your OT security will be at risk if you don’t think about these scenarios and take proper help from an OT cybersecurity provider. The professionals will know what to do against any operational technology attack on an industry or firm.

6. Transmission-Based Information Manipulation

  • Information supplied to sensors, PLCs, and other systems is a prime target for hackers. This method often covers up hacking attempts and other security breaches.
  • It buys the intruders more time in the network before they are detected.

7. Errors Made by Humans

Another issue that crops up often, not just in industry but in all kinds of business, is human mistakes. Just like any other sector, the cyber security guide will let you know that OT systems can also get messed up by human errors.

Things to know:

  • As no machine can predict when a human mistake will occur, it is more difficult to prevent them. Increasing OT cyber security can help industries avoid such scenarios.
  • Organizations should monitor device modifications with the use of operational technology security. It may aid management in tracing faults early on to prevent any additional damage.

8. Dangers Associated with Disregarding OT Security

Unfortunately, response and remediation can be complex when OT systems are involved. Building systems, industrial controls, medical equipment, and pharmaceutical assembly machines can be networked.

As a result, many of these devices are possible hacking access points. 2020 Forescout says older versions of Windows harm medical equipment. 71% of Windows systems they examined were utilizing an unsupported version.

OT device owners and OT security teams seldom agree on goals. OT device departments concentrate on device security, dependability, and availability.

Final Thoughts

Use OT security to lessen the burden of the manufacturing industry's difficulties. OT cybersecurity protects against cyberattacks and human mistakes.

An additional safety measure is always a good idea in any industry. Manufacturing companies need OT security to fight against operational technology attacks. So, immediately implement OT security to safeguard your company and its constituents.