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Cybersecurity for IoT and Operational Technology

Download the Cybersecurity in IoT and OT Ecosystem Overview

2021 Technology Spotlight, Part 4

What Is the Role of Cybersecurity in the IoT and OT Ecosystem?

We’re increasingly interconnected—more and more devices, from our homes to our vehicles, communicate with us and with each other. And while consumers, enterprises, and governments alike are reaping the benefits of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and operational technology (OT) networks—for efficiency, productivity, and convenience—this level of connectedness increases the attack surface.

Compromised devices, a changing and unpredictable landscape of network nodes, vulnerabilities in the cloud, and challenges in IoT/OT lifecycle management puts enterprise security and individual privacy at risk, with serious consequences ranging from financial damages to national security harm.

The Benefits of Cybersecurity in the IoT/OT Ecosystem

While IT is about data, OT is about processes and making things happen via control systems. Thus, when OT systems and devices are connected in IoT environments, cybersecurity for OT requires not just the protection of intellectual property and data as with traditional cybersecurity for IT systems, but also the protection of the availability, integrity, reliability, productivity, and safety of the physical devices themselves. By providing effective cybersecurity with end-to-end protection of each of these layers, a strong IoT/OT security framework provides multiple benefits including:

  • Protecting today’s distributed workforce by implementing security protocols on personal and company devices that evolve with the complexity of modern IoT-based malware attacks
  • Securing a vast and changing landscape of disparate and complex networks with increasing automation of security tasks using software-defined networking
  • Minimizing exposure and vulnerabilities within cloud infrastructure by simplifying cloud security workflows for data protection
  • Ensuring transparency across multiple devices, systems, and locations so organizations can better understand IoT/OT security risks and vulnerabilities 

Secure Your Future IoT/OT Networks: Key Takeaways

What should your organization keep in mind as you enhance cybersecurity in your IoT and OT networks? Here are takeaways for federal government leaders:

  1. Not all IoT is built with the same level of security protections. It’s essential to understand what security controls each partner has in place, from encryption to access control procedures, to ensure awareness of possible exposure across the enterprise. On the security integration front, partnerships will be central for a comprehensive strategy. With a technical integrator, optimize channel partnership opportunities across each component layer of the cyber IoT/OT ecosystem with emerging startups to implement best-in-class capabilities for enhanced security. with cutting-edge technology and innovative approaches.

  2. Minimize human intervention for maximum security. Consider OT passive monitoring tools, next-generation firewalls/network segmentation and OT threat detection along with sub-trends such as intent-based networking (IBN) that minimize human intervention and provide maximum network security. Later on, consider less pervasive technologies in the OT environments like software-defined networking options that are just starting to get talked about and allow for configuration as needed.

  3. Address workforce transformation as part of the security strategy. As IT, IoT, and OT converge across industries and begin to be managed under common governance within organizations, employees will experience both the benefits and responsibilities of greater access to operational data across devices and networks. In utilizing a unified approach to IoT/OT, technology professionals will need strong cybersecurity support to understand how shared data can be used securely to meet organizational goals.

     

Want to learn more about cybersecurity in the IoT/OT realm? Download the overview.

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