IoT, IT and OT Merging and Needs Integrated Defense

First of all what is the alphabet soup: IoT, IT and OT?

Internet of Things, Information Technology, Operational Technology are explained best in the sans.org white paper: https://ics.sans.org/media/IT-OT-Convergence-NexDefense-Whitepaper.pdf

Operational Technology (OT) consists of hardware and software systems that monitor and control physical equipment and processes, often found in industries that manage critical infrastructure, such as water, oil & gas, energy, and utilities, but also in automated manufacturing, pharmaceutical processing, and defense networks.  It even forms the foundation of building control systems, air and road traffic controls, shipping systems and, increasingly, management of distributed data storage and processing networks, i.e., cloud services.

In other words this OT is going to be the backbone for all IoT devices (anything that will be eventually be on the Internet), like refrigerators, Alexa, Google, and Apple devices that are voice responsive. It seems to me that the utility companies will develop Asset management and IT management software so that the rest of us can also buy a type of software that can manage all our IoT/IT/OT stuff.

Here is another document from ABB (A manufacturer of PLC’s) https://search.abb.com/library/Download.aspx?DocumentID=9AKK106713A9904&LanguageCode=en&Action=Launch

You can see that integrations in a factory floor environment are important, even if not ‘very’ important. There is also a kind of urgency to this endeavor, since the future build out of IT/OT/IoT is only going to be bigger and more integrated.

Next note the 2014 IT/OT convergence survey from Siemens http://etsinsights.com/infographics/infographic-2014-utility-itot-convergence-survey/

As you can see lots of data is being collected, but costs are the reason that companies are still waiting to implement more automation and integration.

this was an interesting note: “By 2019, 35% of Large Global Manufacturers with Smart Manufacturing Initiatives Will Integrate IT and OT Systems to Achieve Advantages in Efficiency and Response Time (IDC)”

The image is from iebmedia.com document: https://iebmedia.com/index.php?id=11673&parentid=63&themeid=255&hft=95&showdetail=true&bb=1

You can see from the above images the need for IT and OT to become one, as it would be beneficial for control. but interesting to note in all of these images, where is the Cybersecurity angle?

Searching for ICS(Industrial control Systems) Cybersecurity comes up with the following:

from Automation World webpage https://www.automationworld.com/article/technologies/security/making-sense-ics-cybersecurity-market

The IT and OT commonalities are Endpoint protection, Perimeter Firewalls, and Network Segmentation(VLAN). I have also seen IDS/IPS to be used in OT. It seems to me most of the IT items could be used in OT, so the only item that is not useful or well known to iT is the One-way data diode. which only means that data will flow one way and not the other. (in the case of a critical asset). from Microarx.com

https://www.microarx.com/data-diodes

 

The differences between IT and OT devices with regards to Cybersecurity are not significant so the only stumbling block for convergence is resources and will.  It seems after some more data breaches this convergence will speed up.  It is true that ICS factory devices sometimes are legacy devices with little chance of upgrade, so the vulnerabilities are inherent to the device.This is the difference between OT and IT. OT has to have a way of defending these legacy mission critical devices, whereas most IT environments can upgrade and patch… thus making the environment less vulnerable. Legacy devices get replaced in IT. Not in the factory floor. So auditing the different environments require more expertise and preparation than an IT network where one can see all devices.

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