Will industrial networks undergo far-ranging and long-lasting changes?

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Will industrial networks undergo far-ranging and long-lasting changes

Security leaders believe that OT and IT teams in critical manufacturing and infrastructure organizations must be capable of proactively managing risk 

CISOs acknowledge that as security and IT professionals, they are aware that change is constant. Part of an effective security measure is the ability to adapt to changes; the faster an enterprise adapts to changes, the more successful it will be.

The unprecedented changes in 2020 had a dramatic impact on operational technology environments (OT). It accelerated and, at times, recast the measures used by organizations to address four major areas.

Digital transformation

CIOs say that even before the pandemic, organizations involved in critical infrastructure and manufacturing sectors started improving their conventional manufacturing procedures and shifting to the SaaS and cloud applications.

Most of them had some form of remote access solution available that allowed manufacturers of the industrial control systems that compromise operational technology networks that could service preexisting devices per the contract. The pandemic crisis helped accelerate the digital transformation journey rapidly.

Encouraged by the need to boost productivity and top-line revenue to survive and stay competitive, organizations targeted digitization, and the convergence of OT and IT networks expanded significantly.

Read More: The Disconnect between IT and Employees Are Affecting Remote Productivity

Business opportunities

Enterprises also observed an increase in business opportunities in critical infrastructure sectors like pharmaceuticals, food, and beverage, etc. For them, the OT part of the business drives revenue.

To take advantage of the opportunities, enterprises looked for ways to reduce costs and optimize procedures via automation. Thus smart and Internet of Things (IoT) devices became necessary to improve OT operations.

Cyber threats

Security leaders say that number enterprises in the critical infrastructure sectors couldn’t afford downtime brought on by cyber risks. This contributed to the IT/OT security issue. However, as more OT and IT networks converge, a higher number of legacy OT systems become internet facing. This exposes more IoT devices to the environments, the security gap grows wider, and attackers gain more opportunities.

OT security

The relation between improved security and increasing competitiveness is highly apparent at the board level. Business leaders in these areas have become more cognizant of the severity and prevalence of such threats. They are uncovering more methods to mitigate risk and develop business continuity plans.

They acknowledge that years have been spent protecting the IT networks, but with heightened IT/OT convergence to improve business performance and competition, they realize that the OT networks have continued to be exposed.

They have become highly vulnerable at a point when they cannot afford the compromise. Thus business continuity plans are their top priority, closely followed by a holistic measure towards mitigation of risk.

Read More: Protecting wireless protocols from data breach

Business leaders point out that as enterprises finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with the severity of the pandemic decreasing, the way that businesses are managed will change significantly and permanently.

The tech used to support the change will also modify permanently. To gain the maximum advantage from the confluence of changes and move ahead safely, OT and IT teams in the critical infrastructure and manufacturing enterprises should proactively handle risk.