The growing overlap between operational technology and advanced connectivity is necessitating a new approach to security in the energy industry.

FREMONT, CA: The digitalization has brought new opportunities, as well as new risks in its wake. While energy companies are trying to tackle the escalating cyber risks in information technology systems, operational technology systems are also experiencing an evolving set of threats. The conventional approach to protecting energy infrastructure can only have a limited impact on operational technology security since the solutions do not always adapt to Industrial Control Systems (ICS). Thus, for the energy industry, targeted OT security is becoming mandatory, driving stakeholders towards innovative approaches and upgraded capabilities.   

The deployment of IoT and IIoT technologies has peaked in recent times. Most of the companies in the energy industry today have IoT and IIoT networks connecting the ICS. When critical operational infrastructures are connected, they run the risk of exposure. Hackers on the prowl now have access to advanced tools and technologies which they can leverage to identify weak points in the connectivity to launch attacks on the OT. Unprotected systems are thus, vulnerable to targeted attacks, which can cripple entire power plants, and electric grids resulting in long-term outages. This will subsequently impact every facility dependant on electricity supply.

One way for the energy sector to ensure OT safety is by developing mechanisms that allow real-time monitoring of the ICS. By incorporating the monitoring and detection systems into energy infrastructure from the outset, it is possible to have excellent opportunities for OT security. A strategy that makes risks discoverable without impacting the efficiency of operational systems is the ideal one. Every device in a network can contribute to safety instead of resulting in an increased attack surface.

As older approaches become outdated and inefficient, energy companies should now focus on improving situational awareness with the help of technological, data-backed interventions. Advanced risk reporting and automated response mechanisms can significantly boost OT security, enabling energy companies to ace digital transformation advantages while preventing security issues.

See also: Top IoT Companies