OT security has increasingly become a key priority for CISOs and their teams. A need for change has been triggered due to the rapid digitalisation of industrial environments coupled with hyperconnectivity across industries and the convergence of IT and OT. Alongside numerous advantages brought forward due to digitalisation, many new challenges have been thrown up for IT security teams.
A new report from Dragos and CXO Priorities has highlighted the risk Middle East organisations face from ICS adversaries and how the digitalisation of industrial elements has triggered a need for change. In this blog, Mrigaya Dham, Senior Content Strategist, Lynchpin Media, highlights the necessity of prioritising OT security and the consequences of failing to understand OT security risks.
Digitalisation of industrial elements has triggered a need for change
Over the years, new threat groups have emerged and are taking advantage of these new ‘connected’ industrial control systems (ICS). Unfortunately, in extreme cases, OT security shortcomings can lead to devastating financial losses, reputational damage, injury, and loss of life. Therefore, organisations today must prioritise implementing a robust OT security strategy after understanding the current OT threat landscape.
As ICS is no longer neatly firewalled off from the rest of the network, attackers have shifted their focus, often leading to devastating impacts. According to The OT Threat Landscape – Challenges and Priorities for Middle East Organisations, which surveyed 50 individuals from the Middle East,most organisations are still in the early stages of their Digital Transformation journey; however, they are committed to advancing it. With the rapid digitalisation we are experiencing today, organisations need to ramp up their investments and consider OT security as soon as possible.
Prioritising OT security
Over the last two years, organisations in the Middle East have prioritised OT security. Despite this, most employees still believe there is a medium to high risk from ICS adversaries. Similar to enterprise IT environments, critical threats to OT security are highlighting a need for ensuring patching and prioritising tools like anti-malware. Furthermore, there is a need to invest in security training and education to reduce the possibility of human error.
Consequences of failing to understand OT security risks
OT security risks can lead to multiple outcomes, often devastating. An attack on critical systems can cause potential operational disruption, considered the most significant consequence of failing to understand OT security risks in the Middle East. In addition, a lack of comprehensive understanding of these risks can also lead to a lack of situational awareness and loss of IP and competitive advantage.
As the perceived risk of OT security threats ranges between medium to high, organisations need to prioritise creating a strong security culture. To enable cyber-resilience in critical infrastructure settings, organisations first need to begin with asset visibility and ascertain information about what they already have and need to protect. Surprisingly, more than half of individuals either don’t know or do not have the required level of asset visibility. This needs to be remedied as it is not possible to protect what organisations and employees don’t know they have. It is highly recommended to onboard an OT security partner to fill in the gaps and ensure security across all touchpoints.
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