From power grids and pipelines to water supply networks and heavy industrials such as mines and manufacturing, operational technology (OT) is central to the streamlined functioning of society.

Critical infrastructure under siege

The frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks in 2021 alone has demonstrated just how insecure critical infrastructure could be to potential compromise, and what the catastrophic consequences of a sabotaged OT system could hold for civilians, corporations, and state.

Much of the OT systems utilised in the public and private sector today has been designed to be perimeter protected – or air gapped – from lost networks. However, these systems are becoming increasingly integrated and interconnected with IT. While digitalisation, automation and Internet of Things (IoT) devices are driving operational efficiencies, increased connectivity within OT systems has exponentially expanded the threat surface.

Digital transformation and the advent and adoption of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has increased the risk of ageing, legacy infrastructure being connected to the internet – both directly and indirectly. Disparities in cyber security between OT and IT systems, paired with the ever-evolving attack methods by threat actors, means that the consequences of a security breach could be far-reaching and costly.

The need for proactive and holistic cyber security

Traditional approaches are no longer sufficient to secure OT infrastructure from imminent cyber threats. As a cyberattack on OT could have potentially devastating real-world repercussions, such as financial loss, threat to human lives, environmental harm, or even complete corporate shutdown, it is necessary that industrial processes and operations are defended through resilient, proactive cyber security posture to combat growing risks. A robust framework can bridge the gaps, including those of human error.