Operational technologies include a wide range of industrial systems used in manufacturing, including programmable logic controllers, human-machine interfaces, computer numerical control systems, building management and building automation systems, and supervisory control and data acquisition systems. Each of these technologies encompasses a combination of hardware and software that is responsible for monitoring, controlling and operating industrial equipment.
Protecting OT is crucial because any disruption to these environments could have a wide-ranging impact on people's everyday lives. For example, a hack of an automation system could compromise production and affect supply chains.
OT environments have traditionally been separate from IT environments, but these environments are now more interconnected because companies need to increase their agility and deliver services more quickly and efficiently.
However, convergence also has increased the attack surface for organizations. Operational technologies are prime targets for hackers because these technologies support mission- and business-critical tasks. Operational technologies also may include legacy technologies that lack modern threat detection and response capabilities and may not be subject to the same data governance requirements as IT solutions, since they've traditionally operated outside of IT environments.
All of these factors make it more difficult for companies to establish full network visibility into their broader technology ecosystem and gain a comprehensive understanding of the most pressing threats to their organizations. However, they can take several steps to address these challenges, reduce the risks of manufacturing data breaches, and enhance manufacturing cyber security across OT and IT environments.