Cybersecurity experts have long played a significant role in any information technology (IT) department. However, an increase in cyberattacks targeting operational technology systems raises the question: Who is in charge of operational technology (OT) security, andwhat is needed to prevent, detect and respond to new attacks?
The 2021 attack on Colonial Pipeline demonstrated the effect a cyberattack can have on operational environments and the supply chain, delaying the 1.4 million barrels of fuel delivered daily up and down the East Coast. Before the age of the internet, the Industrial Control Systems (ICS) that ran industrial operations were more likely to be “air gapped,” or disconnected entirely from the outside world. Today, these systems are connected and BETA networked across the business, expanding the attack surface and exposing new vulnerabilities that threat actors are looking to exploit.
While this connectivity offers great benefits, from efficiency to performance improvements, it has resulted in heightened risk for operations and a surge in attacks. The threat has moved from the cyber to the physical world and can have serious and often devastating consequences to operations, people and the environment. As a result of this shift from the IT to OT landscape, the C-suite must educate themselves and drive change into the organization to ensure a robust cybersecurity program is in place that addresses OT separately from IT.