More and more manufacturing companies are joining the Industry 4.0 revolution by integrating their operational technology (OT) devices with external devices and systems, reaping the many benefits of automated and advanced manufacturing. The increasing connectivity of OT networks leads to a concurrent surge in exposure to cyber-attacks that jeopardize the availability of critical operational systems. In 2019, the number of connected OT devices will continue to grow exponentially and so will the OT security threat landscape.
Here are the notable trends:
Threat growth: Manufacturing companies are now prime victims of OT cyber-attacks
In the past, OT cyber attacks have mainly targeted critical infrastructure operators. Today, automotive, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and other manufacturers find their OT networks increasingly victimized by cyber criminals. Recent incidents such as the attacks against Merck and TSMC are just the tip of the iceberg. In some cases, the estimated damages are hundreds of millions of dollars.
Critical: Security solutions that scale with network size and complexity
Connecting operational networks to other internal and external networks will become more common, requiring comprehensive security systems that can support these extremely complex networks. These security solutions must handle the high volume of assets and sessions as well as their constantly changing behavior.
In demand: OT security that blends into IT security workflow
In 2019, OT security will still be the responsibility of the IT security team. Therefore, it's critical that organizations understand how the solutions they implement can fit into their existing security architecture. They need dedicated OT security solutions that blend into existing IT security operations and can be easily integrated into the IT workflow.
Shifting direction: IIoT capabilities are moving to the cloud
To enjoy the full benefits of Industrial IoT and enable better analytics, predictive maintenance, synchronization, etc., industrial organizations will increase their cloud infrastructure adoption in OT environments. The advanced IIoT management platforms are shifting to the cloud, where industrial organizations can make the most out of the data produced from the OT sensors. This shift will have significant security implications, and OT security strategies will have to adopt accordingly.
New focus: Future-proof security
As the digital transformation of industrial networks continues, security and OT teams are no longer focusing only on securing their legacy environments; they are now focusing their attention on building strategies and adopting solutions that can support future technologies and architectures. Cybersecurity will start to be integrated at the very beginning at the design phase of advanced Industrial IoT solutions and projects.
Manufacturers are in a bind. They are faced with serious challenges such as an increasing attack surface and growing interest of adversaries in exposing OT network vulnerabilities. IT/OT convergence, growing network complexity, and the shortage of skilled workers only adds to the list of their concerns. As the requirements from the business units continue to increase, manufacturers need, more than ever, to adopt dedicated security solutions that can support their needs for scalable, connected, and advanced OT networks.