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9 actions manufacturers must take to stay on top of OT security (and keep bad actors at bay)

Operational Technology (OT) cybersecurity means all those practices, technologies, and policies implemented to protect industrial control systems, critical infrastructure, and other OT assets from cyber threats.

But OT systems often have their own unique characteristics. These necessitate specialized cybersecurity approaches that are radically different from protecting traditional IT environments.

Here are 9 key things you need to pay attention to stay on top of OT cybersecurity:

  1. Asset Inventory and Visibility
    Establishing an accurate inventory of OT assets, including industrial control systems (ICS), programmable logic controllers (PLCs), sensors, and other devices, is essential for effective cybersecurity. Organizations should maintain visibility into their OT environments, including network topology, device configurations, and software versions, to identify vulnerabilities and assess risk.
  2. Risk Assessment and Management
    Conducting regular risk assessments of OT systems helps identify potential security vulnerabilities, threats, and risks to critical operations. Organizations should prioritize risks based on their potential impact on safety, reliability, and productivity, and implement appropriate risk mitigation measures, such as security controls, patches, and compensating controls.
  3. Network Segmentation
    Implementing network segmentation between IT and OT environments helps contain and mitigate the impact of cyber threats. By segmenting networks based on function, role, and security requirements, organizations can limit the lateral movement of attackers and protect critical OT assets from unauthorized access or compromise.
  4. Access Control and Authentication
    Implementing strong access controls and authentication mechanisms is crucial for protecting OT systems from unauthorized access or manipulation. This may include multi-factor authentication, role-based access controls (RBAC), and least privilege principles to ensure that only authorized personnel can access and modify OT assets and configurations.
  5. Security Monitoring and Incident Detection
    Deploying security monitoring tools and technologies, such as intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions, enables organizations to detect and respond to cybersecurity threats in real-time. Continuous monitoring of OT networks and systems helps identify anomalous behavior, suspicious activities, and security incidents promptly.
  6. Patch Management and Vulnerability Remediation
    Establishing robust patch management processes and procedures is essential for addressing known vulnerabilities in OT systems and devices. Organizations should regularly apply security patches and updates provided by vendors, while also testing patches in a controlled environment to minimize the risk of disruption to critical operations.
  7. Incident Response and Recovery
    Developing and implementing an incident response plan tailored to OT environments is critical for effectively responding to cybersecurity incidents and minimizing their impact on operations. Organizations should establish procedures for incident detection, containment, eradication, and recovery, including backup and restoration processes for critical OT data and configurations.
  8. Training and Awareness
    Providing cybersecurity training and awareness programs for OT personnel helps build a culture of security and accountability within the organization. Employees should be educated about common cyber threats, best practices for secure behavior, and their role in maintaining OT security.
  9. Regulatory Compliance and Standards
    Ensuring compliance with industry regulations, standards, and guidelines related to OT cybersecurity is essential for protecting critical infrastructure and mitigating legal and regulatory risks. Organizations should stay informed about evolving regulatory requirements and align their cybersecurity practices accordingly.

Enhance OT resilience, reliability and security

Addressing these key aspects of OT cybersecurity is the surest way for organizations to enhance the resilience, reliability, and security of their industrial control systems and critical infrastructure, protecting them from cyber threats and ensuring the continuity of operations.

Looking for a partner that can help?  AutomateIT’s team engineers aligned with our partnerships with Cisco and Rockwell Automation can ensure you are protecting your data and ensuring your business continuity.