Every IT-OT connection creates an additional vector for potential OT exploitation that could impact and compromise mission and/or production. Performing a comprehensive risk analysis for all IT-OT interconnections and only allowing mission critical interconnections when they are properly protected will create an improved cybersecurity posture. By employing an appropriate risk analysis strategy, leadership and system owners and operators can make informed decisions to better manage OT networks while reducing the threats from and impact of exploitation and destructive cyber effects.
Joseph Carson, chief security scientist and Advisory CISO at ThycoticCentrify, explains, “Attacks targeting critical national infrastructure (CNI) tend to be the work of advanced persistent threat (APT) groups working on behalf of nation states with specific goals. Such high-level adversaries are difficult to defend against as they have the time and resources required to repeatedly test security measures and find gaps, whereas more opportunist criminals in search of profits will opt for soft targets. In addition to facing particularly tenacious attackers, most areas of CNI must also contend with complex network infrastructure that is difficult to secure. Operational Technology (OT), the systems used for managing the heavy industrial equipment common across these sectors, often operates in a very different fashion to traditional IT. Systems have often been designed with a lifespan of decades in mind, and are a poor fit with the fast-moving world of modern IT networks.”