In OT Environments, Security Must Not Be an Afterthought


The dream of a cloud-enabled operational technology, or OT, environment is becoming a reality thanks to daily innovations in technology, which have the potential of turning legacy control systems into integrated IIoT instances. These changes are happening at a fast pace, and are often extraordinary in scale. Large scale ICS SCADA systems, such as those found in oil and gas are evolving; however, one thing remains constant: poor security.

 

Why Security Is a Challenge

As IT security professionals know, security must adapt to an ever-changing threat landscape. A fluid model does not play well with most current ICS and SCADA systems. These systems depend on availability first, making the application of security measures challenging to implement and even harder to maintain. For OT operators, security must support a model that allows technicians to connect devices first to configure and fine-tune them, and then later lock them down. There must be enough security in place to protect both the business and the process control environment from attacks, but with just enough protection that it neither overcomplicates the automation groups workflows nor stops, blocks or disrupts production.

Purpose-built and expensive to update or replace, these systems and networks do not conform to the equipment lifecycle of an IT network. The majority of oil and gas field networks and remote process control networks are archaic, but also happen to be the systems we take for granted on a daily basis. Attackers know that, when and if these systems fail, they can affect our daily lives.

 

What’s Next?

It is time we change our beliefs on what a secure network looks like and how it should work? As organizations adopt cloud-based infrastructures and other IIoT technologies, security does not have to be an afterthought. Our Security Operating Platform secures control system networks in several ways, including automatically preventing new and unknown threats, providing virtual network segmentation and offering role-based network access.

Learn more about how to protect your controls environment against sophisticated cyberattacks by downloading our Cybersecurity for Oil and Gas Solutions Brief.

[Palo Alto Networks Research Center]

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