OT cybersecurity and IT vulnerability

OT cybersecurity is one of the main challenges to be solved by organizations that see how any IT vulnerability is exploited by cybercriminals to launch all kinds of attacks.

OT cybersecurity has become a priority for corporate CISOs: 31% claim to have suffered a cyberattack in OT. And the number is increasing.

Production process management technologies, also known as Operational Technology or OT technology, are fundamental to the development of Industry 4.0. Being, in most cases, autonomous and having a significant number of devices, OT cybersecurity is one of the main challenges that organizations will face.

OT technology integrates both software and hardware to communicate, control and monitor the different elements that make up industrial networks.

Industrial networks, as is the case with the rest of the communications networks, can have different types of IT vulnerabilities, so their protection is essential to prevent and protect against the different cyber-attacks that can occur. And in the same way that IT is protected with strategies such as Zero Trust, and with certain solutions and services, it is also necessary to protect OT technology.

Scanning processes without security

The digitization processes of organizations and, specifically, of the companies that make up the industrial sector have accelerated in recent years. However, this pace of adoption of different technologies has not been accompanied by a well-developed cybersecurity strategy. In OT technology this situation has occurred, so systems have been developed that have little protection, with unpatched software tools that make them very sensitive to the growing number of cyber-attacks on smart factories and the entry of all kinds of malware.

Computer vulnerability in OT

Various studies indicate that OT’s IT vulnerability will be increasingly exploited by cybercriminals in the coming years. Those same reports indicate that 31% of CISOs and cybersecurity managers claim to have experienced cyberattacks on OT infrastructure, while 38% expect attacks that typically occur in IT environments to move OT.

Computer vulnerability in OT

The question is why there is so much IT security vulnerabilities in OT environments. The main reason for this is that many of the devices that work in OT were developed several years ago, at a time when IT cybersecurity was on the back burner. Other devices, on the other hand, have no IT integration whatsoever, so they are also more exposed in that they are less protected.

The industrial sector was one of the first to implement fully automated systems and applications: they accelerated production processes, reduced costs and eliminated monotonous tasks for the workers, who then performed other tasks of greater value to the business. However, leaving aside the security aspect, the industrial sector has also been among the first to suffer cyber-attacks. These cyber-attacks, in most cases, occurred accidentally: that is, the cybercriminal found by chance that there was an IT security breach in a certain element.

OT cybersecurity and IT vulnerability

Types of OT attacks

OT cybersecurity has become a top priority for industrial companies. Usually, the most recurrent breaches detected in these environments are related to vulnerabilities that allow the propagation of all types of malware. Spear phishing attacks are also common in order to obtain specific information and data, both financial and related to intellectual property. OT devices are also used by cybercriminals to carry out denial-of-service attacks.

Therefore, it is essential to protect OT in the same way that other networks or equipment are protected. This secures production processes and prevents OT environments from being unprotected; with the possibility of incorporating RPA tools into cybersecurity.

To achieve this twofold objective, it is of course necessary to develop a cybersecurity culture and incorporate anti-malware tools, but it is also vital to have a suitable partner such as aggity, which helps design the OT cybersecurity strategy and has advanced solutions such as Cloud & Cybersecurity by aggity. In this way, the organization will have knowledge of where the main IT vulnerabilities are located and also the ability to eliminate them.