In recent years, cyberattacks have become a more common occurrence. This has led to many businesses and organizations taking steps to improve their cybersecurity.
However, many of these same entities are still not properly protecting their operational technology (OT) networks. OT networks are used for things like manufacturing processes and energy distribution, and they are often not as well protected as IT networks because they were not originally designed with security in mind.
In this article, we will discuss five things you need to know about IT cybersecurity for OT networks.
- What Is OT, and Why Is It Important to Protect It From IT Cyberattacks?
OT systems are responsible for the monitoring and control of physical processes in critical infrastructure and industrial facilities. OT systems are often found in environments where safety is a concern, such as nuclear power plants and oil refineries.
OT systems are designed to be highly reliable and operate continuously for long periods of time. As a result, OT systems are often slow to adopt new technologies and can be difficult to patch or update. OT security is the practice of securing OT systems from cyberattacks.
Cyberattacks on OT systems can have serious consequences, including disruptions to critical infrastructure and industrial facilities. OT security is important because OT systems are often not well protected from cyberattacks.
- The Different Types of IT Cyberattacks That Can Target OT Networks
There are a variety of cyberattacks that can target OT networks. These include
A denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) is a type of cyberattack that attempts to make a system or network unavailable. DoS attacks target servers, websites, or other online resources typically.
Malware is a type of malicious software that can infect OT systems. Malware can be used to gain control of an OT system or to steal data.
A steel mill in Germany faced a malware attack in 2014. The attackers could gain access to the SCADA/ICS network of the organization. The attack was carried out using an email that had a document attached. This document, when opened, enabled the malware to enter the system.
It is the process of gathering information about a network. Information gathered during network reconnaissance includes IP addresses, hostnames, and open ports.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files and demands a ransom be paid to decrypt them. Ransomware attacks can have serious consequences, including data loss and downtime.
There have been several ransomware attacks on various organizations for a long time. Let’s take a look at a recent ransomware attack example.
Nvidia fell victim to a ransomware attack in which the cybercriminals managed to steal the company’s source code. In exchange for it, the cybercriminals demanded Nvidia publish its GPU drivers as open-source. They also asked Nvidia to pay a hefty ransom amount.
- How to Secure OT Networks?
There are several steps that can be taken to secure OT networks. These include:
Implementing Security Policies and Procedures
One way to improve OT security is to implement policies and procedures that will help to secure OT networks. These policies and procedures can address password management, access control, and data encryption issues. By implementing these policies and procedures, organizations can help to reduce the risk of OT system compromise and ensure that their OT networks are more secure.
Segmenting OT Networks
Another way to reduce these risks is to segment OT networks from IT networks. It becomes much harder for attackers to gain access to OT systems by physically separating two types of networks.
In addition, segmentation can help to contain the spread of malware and other malicious code. As a result, OT security can be greatly improved by segmenting OT networks from IT networks.
Monitoring OT Systems
To protect OT systems from attack, it is essential to monitor OT networks for unusual activity. Security teams can detect anomalies that may indicate an attempted breach by monitoring OT systems.
In addition, monitoring OT networks can help to identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an attacker. By taking these steps, companies can ensure that their OT networks are secure and protected from potential threats.
Patching and Updating OT Systems
One of the easiest ways to improve OT security is to patch and update OT systems regularly. By patching vulnerabilities, you can prevent attackers from exploiting them. By updating systems, you can ensure that they are compatible with new security features and protocols.
To help protect OT networks, training employees in OT security is essential. OT security training should cover topics such as identifying and reporting suspicious activity, understanding the organization’s OT security policies and procedures and knowing how to respond to a security incident. By increasing employee awareness of OT security risks and how to mitigate them, organizations can make their OT networks more secure.
If you need more information about securing OT networks, you can read and refer to various online resources on OT cybersecurity, such as the OT cybersecurity guide. The guide provides in-depth information on OT systems, the threats to OT systems, and how to protect the systems effectively.
- What Are the Challenges of Securing OT Networks?
Several challenges need to be considered when securing OT networks. These include:
OT Systems Are Often Not Well Protected
OT systems are often not as well protected as IT systems because they were not designed with security in mind. This can make it difficult to patch or update OT systems.
OT Systems Are Often Critical
These systems are critical to the operation of industrial facilities and infrastructure. As a result, disruptions caused to OT systems during protection procedures, such as updating or patching, can have serious consequences.
OT Systems Are Often Complex
OT systems can be complex, and this complexity can make it difficult to secure them.
- What Are the Benefits of Securing OT Networks?
There are several benefits to securing OT networks. These include:
Securing OT networks can help to improve the reliability of OT systems. Thus, you can depend on them with more confidence and ensure that your daily operations are carried out smoothly.
Securing OT networks can provide greater visibility into the operation of OT systems.
Finally, securing OT networks can help reduce OT systems’ downtime.
We hope this blog helped you get acquainted with the five major aspects related to IT cybersecurity for OT systems. Protecting OT systems from IT cyberattacks is crucial. So , ensure that you implement all the necessary measures that can help protect or mitigate the risk of IT attacks.