Technology is far more advanced than ever before. Ever since the emergence of COVID-19, companies, and organizations have embraced the concept of digitalization and cloud technology as most of the operations and tasks are taking place online. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Operational Technology (OT) are two examples of advanced technology implemented by companies and organizations worldwide. And the new, advanced digital transformation enables them to unlock their full potential. Primarily, for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) tasks to perform, they utilize IoT and OT in a productive way. Even though Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) are entirely two different things, the new age of digital transformation enables them to collaborate and merge. Networking with IT means that OT systems are exposed to cyber risks. Attacks from IT security can also impact OT systems, and hence, the attack surface increases.
According to Wikipedia, the Internet of things (IoT) describes physical objects (or groups of such objects) with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet or other communications networks.
Because of IoT, millions of devices are connected over the internet. It has enabled new pathways for companies and businesses to ramp up their operations. IoT has unlocked wonders in the field of tech.
TechTarget defines Information technology (IT) as the use of any computers, storage, networking, and other physical devices, infrastructure, and processes to create, process, store, secure, and exchange all forms of electronic data.
IT networks are less complicated than OT networks as it does not comprise many assets that originate from different manufacturers, such as ICS, actuators, and sensors.
Gartner and other technology blogs defines operational technology (OT) as hardware and software that detects or causes a change, through the direct monitoring and/or control of industrial equipment, assets, processes, and events.
OT compromises both hardware and software that monitors and controls data. Operational technology can also be used in other sectors such as water and energy providers, not just production plants. In OT, the main thing is to focus on processes and not the individual product.
A couple of years ago, IT security teams and OT security teams worked in separate spaces. They often dont understand each other’s point of view, and dont speak the same language. In OT, the plant operator is responsible for the entire production plant.
The fundamental objectives of IT security are to ensure the integrity and availability of data. Whereas, when it comes to OT security, it mainly focuses on providing availability. In operational technology, safety plays a vital role in addition to further security factors in IoT devices. ‘Safety’ does not only refer to information security but also addresses operational health and safety, which generally refers to protecting people from various environmental hazards.
Moreover, threats can also arise from within. For example, the isolated OT system is also at stake if there’s malware on an employee’s laptop.
For an organization to appropriately safeguard its IoT devices, they need to adequately follow IT security measures and establish a risk management system. First off, they need to layout a proper overview of their assets-
Hence, based on the outcome of this assessment, organizations can take the measures required to minimize the risks. How well their IoT devices are protected is based on how many of these measures have already been executed.
Therefore, the first step in achieving OT security is to implement measures based on the important assets and threats. At present, companies and organizations are trying their overall best to get their hands on the latest pieces of equipment and services such as IoT services and AI services. Welcome to the new age of digital technology.
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