Kyle Miller, operational technology (OT) cybersecurity practice lead and self-described “gadget guy,” has always been fascinated with technology. As a teenager, he implemented a home automation system in his own house and built desktop computers from scratch. While everyone else on his street was using dial-up, Kyle already had his own network. As an information technology (IT) major in college, Kyle took his first cybersecurity class, and he was hooked. Now a decade into his career at Booz Allen, Kyle blends his childhood love of technology with his college passion for cybersecurity in the niche area of OT.
We spoke to Kyle about his work in this unique space and the ways in which OT is on the leading edge of cybersecurity.
What do you do at Booz Allen? I lead the OT cybersecurity practice supporting our global commercial clients and their missions. We operate across the entire OT lifecycle, and our work spans from high-level OT cyber strategy through deeply technical areas such as OT threat detection and response. We have clients across many critical sectors, including national defense, civil infrastructure, manufacturing, and oil and gas. OT systems represent some of our clients’ most critical assets and it’s important that we’re able to step in and work with them as both trusted advisors and technical experts to help keep their cyber-physical systems safe.
How did you get into OT? Booz Allen was my first real job out of school, and I started in a more general cybersecurity role. I joined the firm right around the time the Stuxnet attack became public, which quickly brought to light the vulnerabilities of cyber-physical systems. Overnight, our clients realized that they needed to reconsider cybersecurity in the OT space, and one of my earliest projects was establishing a program to assess industrial controls and OT systems to see if they would be vulnerable to the same type of attack. I dove into the complex waters of OT security and never looked back.
What makes OT so exciting? We’re in a specialized area of cybersecurity, and in many ways, what we’re doing is on the cutting edge. If you look back only a decade, our clients’ control systems weren’t anything like they are today and cybersecurity wasn’t even a consideration. But as the systems have evolved, they’ve become less proprietary, more connected, and especially vulnerable. We work with interesting equipment and in unique environments, from power plants to oil rigs, and at Booz Allen, we get to secure every part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
What do you like best about your team? Our diverse backgrounds. Some of us are mechanical and electrical engineers from true OT environments, who’ve worked with these systems in the field, and others are cybersecurity leaders and IT specialists who’ve never been in an industrial environment before. We use our experiences to cross-train each other, as well as our OT Cybersecurity Lab to train and test real-world equipment in a replica environment. We’re always learning from one another. We truly build practitioners in the OT cybersecurity space at Booz Allen.