Future-proofing your OT security strategy

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With acquisitions constantly reshaping the OT security marketplace, practitioners will need to be ready for further changes.

According to Gartner, 60 percent of today’s point solution operational technology (OT) security providers will have disappeared or been rebranded, repositioned or bought by 2023. OT security stakeholders must therefore implement strategies to help prepare for these imminent changes.

Forescout has released four tips to help future-proof OT strategy.

1. Proactively identify, classify and monitor OT network assets

“The first step to managing cyber and operational risk for any OT system is to figure out what’s in it,” says the release. Almost every security framework requires identifying and classifying hardware as a prerequisite. Make implementing some form of real-time OT asset inventory tracking a priority for 2020.

As OT systems morph into cyber-physical systems that are connected to vast corporate and operational networks via the internet, they are exposed to threats and the potential for misconfiguration and malfunction is increased. More moving parts plus more connections equals higher risk.

Proactively identifying, classifying and monitoring OT network assets can help businesses discover what risks they face in the present and also plan to reduce future risks.

2. Align IT and OT teams to execute integrated cybersecurity initiatives

The convergence of IT and OT is gaining more traction, so businesses need to implement strong cybersecurity programs while maintaining the top priority of availability for OT systems. For this to succeed, teams must integrate, distinguish between the areas where IT is the expert and OT is the expert, and work towards a common goal. Clearly define roles and goals and conduct cross-training.

“IT and OT networks are founded on different and often conflicting priorities,” says Steve Hunter, senior director of systems engineering APAC at Forescout, “making IT-OT security challenging for businesses. Only when the needs of both environments are thoroughly understood can digital convergence be successful.”

3. Use proof-of-value requirements that will accurately assess a vendor’s suitability

When undertaking any security proof-of-value, all relevant teams, including security, engineering and operations, should be consulted for input. Ensuring solution requirements meet everyone’s needs is vital to the success of any OT security investment.

Elements to consider include how a vendor is collecting OT data, the strength of a vendor’s threat intelligence database and how comprehensive their orchestration and integration capabilities are. Whatever proof-of-value requirements you include, ensure that they accurately assess a vendor’s maturity and suitability for the business, while also endeavouring to weed out companies that are unlikely to be around in two or three years.

4. Align with emerging market dynamics by reassessing the OT security vendor landscape

As the volatile market matures, narrow-scope point solutions will be challenged by vendors offering organisation-wide platforms that traverse IT, OT, IoT (Internet of Things) and the cloud. Evaluate your current security suite to understand which tools are providing the most value and whether any of the organisation’s current vendors are at risk of becoming obsolete or going out of business.

“The future of the OT security market is uncertain,” says Hunter. “However, by staying up-to-date on emerging technologies and understanding how IT and OT networks interoperate, organisations can holistically manage risks to their organisational OT infrastructure.”

Photo by CDC on Unsplash


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