Closing the OT Visibility Gap

Operational technology (OT) is the hardware and software responsible for physical processes, devices, and infrastructure. OT is a core component of critical infrastructure and, in turn, states’ national security. The 21st century has seen dramatic technological advancements, known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0). Industry 4.0 centers on the development of cyber physical systems (CPS), the umbrella term of engineered systems that orchestrate sensing, computation, control, networking and analytics to interact with the physical world. In short, CPS automate the monitoring and control of OT through IT infrastructure. While CPS have brought significant advantages to industry, visibility challenges make managing such systems a difficult task and, with that, comes a host of potential cybersecurity risks.

Cyber physical systems are comprised of different digital tools that all share the common trait of connectivity. Through connectivity, CPS automate industrial processes, thus allowing for better allocation of resources and increased productivity. Industrial Control Systems (ICS), which include Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and Distributed Control System (DCS), have been around for decades – long before Industry 4.0 came into fruition. However, the development of CPS over the last few years saw the silo that ICS once operated in begin to erode with the introduction of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). ICS are now connected to the “outside” world thanks to the convergence of IT and OT. A survey conducted by the SANS institute found that nearly 40% of devices in the Manufacturing Zone (Purdue levels 0, 1, 2, and 3) are connected to enterprise networks.