Industrial control systems (ICS) is a major segment within the operational technology sector. It comprises systems that are used to monitor and control industrial processes. This could be mine site conveyor belts, oil refinery cracking towers, power consumption on electricity grids or alarms from building information systems. ICSs are typically mission-critical applications with a high-availability requirement.
Operational Technology (OT) refers to computing systems that are used to manage industrial operations as opposed to administrative operations. Operational systems include production line management, mining operations control, oil & gas monitoring etc.
While OT systems typically have narrower functionality and a smaller attack surface than traditional IT systems, they are generally problematic from a security operations perspective. These systems often have proprietary interfaces that make it difficult for cyber-defenders to understand if they are running vulnerable software or are misconfigured. Security patches are often not available, and even if they are, downtime is often not an option.
Protecting connected devices requires a new approach, one that covers all assets, applies comprehensive and robust VM management, deploys ICS security in layers to prevent attacks from both external and internal sources, and mitigates cyber-attacks preemptively.
Every new ICS deployment should include the appropriate cybersecurity component to ward off attacks.
SCADA programs can also be very effective tools for controlling industrial processes locally and at remote locations.
And finally, business criticality should be top-of-mind when ICS security strategies are being developed and implemented.
Businesses with OT networks need better visibility and control over their cyber risks to reduce the likelihood and impact of a cyber-attack. This requires a robust cybersecurity program to assess, detect, and respond against cyber threats. Implementing industrial cyber capabilities reduces risks for critical infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, mining, transportation, building automation and other OT sites around the world is critical.