Over the past two decades, business technology was largely separated between information technology (IT)–that is, the business’ computers, networking equipment, and peripherals–and operational technology (OT): all other technology. As IT advanced, so has OT, which today presents many of the same risks that IT always has. Today, we will take a look at how to secure your business by focusing on where your IT meets your OT.
What Is the Difference Between IT and OT?
It’s not always easy to tell the two apart; and, with the advancement of the Internet of Things the lines are blurring faster each day. Traditionally, a business’ IT could be defined as the technology that was implemented to manage the data the business collects, while the business’ OT was just the equipment that made business possible. As the two have begun to overlap it is extremely important that all the time and effort that is spent on protecting your information systems extends to your network attached operational technology.
Today, a business’ IT and OT work seamlessly to maintain operational effectiveness. This is a major challenge for decision makers as protecting the entirety of the technology runs up costs and demands additional attention. Let’s briefly review some of the challenges organizations face when looking to secure their IT and OT.
By using innovative machines that can now connect to an IT network, a business will open itself up to attack. This is because OT systems generally aren’t considered endpoints by your typical IT department. Make no mistake, they are, and that lapse has resulted in targeted cyberattacks against operational technology. OT networks are susceptible to the same threats as your IT networks are: ransomware, man in the middle attacks, and more. These threats have taken down unprotected OT networks, so to avoid this fate, having a strategy in place that protects this technology is essential to the well-being of your business.
The threats aren’t just coming from hackers and saboteurs, they are coming from regulatory bodies. There are numerous organizations–including governmental, industry-based, and even local regulatory bodies–that build mandates that particular businesses have to operate under. This presents problems that include the prohibitively expensive maintenance of operational technologies. To deal with this cost, businesses use IT to automate once manual tasks, often leaving even protected OT open to attack.
Mounting Security Challenges
There isn’t any doubt that the Internet of Things is growing rapidly. As a result, businesses are increasingly looking to use that technology to increase efficiency, collect data, and more. Each IoT device that is incorporated into the production cycle could be the endpoint that puts your business in jeopardy.
Controls for Your IT and OT Security
To fix your business to prepare for threats that this increased IT/OT convergence presents, consider deploying the following practices:
- Hardware inventory controls
- Software inventory controls
- Ongoing vulnerability management
- Measured use of admin privileges
- Secure hardware and software configurations
- Audit analysis and maintenance
The IT professionals at Catharsis Managed IT Ltd can help you secure your business’ networks where they need to be secured. Call us today at (416) 865-3376 for more information.