A Complete Guide on Professional IT & OT Cyber Security
What is IT?
IT stands for information technology and refers to all the processes and technologies used to create, store, manipulate, transmit and receive information. IT encompasses everything from the software used on individual computers to large-scale enterprise systems.
IT is used in various ways to improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace. For example, it can store and share data, communicate with customers and employees, and manage business processes.
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What is OT?
On the other hand, OT stands for operational technology and refers to the technologies and processes used to manage and control physical devices and systems. OT includes factory equipment, transportation systems, power plants, and more.
OT networks consist of two layers:
The control layer is responsible for monitoring and controlling the physical devices and systems in the OT network. The control layer is typically implemented using dedicated hardware and software systems. These systems provide real-time feedback and control over the physical devices and systems in the OT network.
The data layer is responsible for collecting and transmitting data between devices in the OT network. The data layer is typically implemented using standard IT systems. These systems provide data storage, communication, and processing capabilities.
New Age of Operational Technology
The term “new age of Operational Technology” (OT) is used to describe the current state of OT security. OT was insulated mainly from cyberattacks in the past but is now increasingly connected to the internet and at risk of cyberattacks. As a result, cybersecurity companies are becoming more digital in their networks to stay ahead of their competition.
The Future of Industrial IT Professionals
As OT networks become more interconnected with IT networks, industrial IT professionals will be required to have a broader range of skills. For example, they will need to be able to manage and control traditional OT devices and manage and control new IoT devices.
They will also need to be able to protect the OT network from cyberattacks. Again, this will require a deep understanding of IT and OT security.
What is the IT and OT Convergence?
The IT and OT Convergence is the trend of increasingly integrating information technology (IT) with operational technology (OT), or the technologies used to manage and control physical devices and systems. This convergence is driven by the expansion of the internet of things (IoT), which refers to the growing number of physical devices connected to the internet.
The IT vs. OT security debate has been ongoing for some time. While there are benefits to integrating IT and OT, there are also risks associated with this convergence. One of the biggest concerns is that the interconnection of these two networks creates a larger attack surface for cybercriminals to exploit.
This convergence has made these physical machines “smart,” which provides several advantages to businesses, including:
- The ability to connect and control physical devices and systems using standard IT systems.
- Increased efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
- The ability to store and share data, communicate with customers and employees, and manage business processes.
- The ability to remotely control and monitor physical devices and systems.
- However, the IT and OT Convergence has also created many cybersecurity risks. One of the most significant risks is that the interconnection of these two networks creates a larger attack surface for cybercriminals to exploit.
The Blurry Lines Between Operations and Information
As the world becomes increasingly digitized, the lines between operations (OT) and information (IT) are becoming increasingly blurred. This convergence is driven by the expansion of the internet of things (IoT), which refers to the growing number of physical devices connected to the internet.
There are some key differences that both IT and OT staff need to be aware of.
Main priorities and focuses
One of the key differences between IT and OT is that IT prioritizes confidentiality, while OT prioritizes safety. Confidentiality is the principle that information should be accessible only to those authorized to access it. This is a critical principle for businesses, as it helps protect their trade secrets and other sensitive information.
IT vs. OT security patching is that IT updates its systems every week, while OT updates its systems every ten years. As a result, OT systems are often more vulnerable to cyberattacks as they have not been updated with the latest security patches. This leaves them open to exploitation by cybercriminals.
Malware Prevention Systems & Safelisting
One of the key differences between IT and OT is that IT relies on malware prevention systems, while OT relies on safelisting. Malware prevention systems are designed to protect systems from being infected by malware, while safelisting allows only authorized applications to run on a system. This difference is because OT systems are often more critical and need to be protected from malware, even if it is not explicitly designed to target OT systems.
Identification, Authentication, and Privileges
The difference between IT vs. OT according to Identification, Authentication, and Privileges is that IT uses a username and password to identify and authenticate users. In contrast, OT uses a physical card or token to identify users. In addition, IT privileges are based on a user’s role within the organization, while OT privileges are based on the function that a user needs to perform.
Enterprise vs. Industry
According to enterprise versus industry, the difference between IT versus OT according to enterprise versus industry is that in an enterprise, IT is responsible for all aspects of the organization. At the same time, OT is responsible for the physical devices and systems. On the other hand, there is a clear distinction between IT and OT, in industry, with IT responsible for the management of information and OT responsible for managing physical devices and systems.
IT vs. OT Incidents
While IT and OT are becoming increasingly interconnected, there are still several distinctions between them. IT incidents are more frequent because they often involve the theft or loss of data. This can be due to human error, malicious insiders, or cyberattacks. Data loss can be disruptive, but it’s typically not destructive.
OT incidents are more destructive because they can cause physical damage to equipment or facilities. This type of damage can be caused by various factors, such as human error, natural disasters, or cyberattacks. While an OT incident can be disruptive, it can also be much more costly than an IT incident.
When it comes to cybersecurity, both IT and OT need to be considered. However, due to the differences, they often require different approaches.