Cybersecurity crucial for OT and ICS in 2023

Nozomi Networks believes 2023 will be a crucial year for cybersecurity developments in the OT and ICS industries.

Danielle Jablanski, OT Cybersecurity Strategist, Nozomi Networks, says that as cybersecurity moves into 2023, the trends from the past few years remain firmly in place.

She says rapid innovation in the OT and ICS sectors is apparent, and security continues to be of utmost importance.

“In the coming years it will be more important than ever for companies to have a clear understanding of their operational technology assets.

Jablanski notes that predicting the future of the operational technology (OT) and industrial control systems (ICS) industries is challenging due to the fact that data in these fields is often difficult to access.

She says that in 2023, increased cybersecurity investments will be necessary to protect against ransomware, unplanned downtime, and other potential threats. She also says it is particularly important as a recession could worsen the impact of these threats on businesses.

“Going into 2023, businesses are finding the right operating model for OT security, managing with limited in-house skills, and re-working already established IT responses. IT and OT have traditionally been substantially different fields with divergent priorities.

“For OT, IT teams may not have access to the right OT knowledge to process data in a response or triage situation, whereas OT engineers have this complete knowledge of continuity and safety issues, but don’t necessarily have the IT expertise to understand how to process security data and assess continuity impacts.”

Jablanski says that collaboration with governments and other organizations has led to a more holistic understanding of risks and solutions, and this will only continue as new threats appear. She also believes that IT continuity and risk assessments will extend to OT, using risk and impact frameworks to develop scenarios that could play out on the industrial side of the business.

Market analysis is also predicting a significant boom, with detection, digital transformation, operational resiliency, interoperability, governance and standards being critical drivers for the demand.

Jablanski says that the 2022 INCONTROLLER attacks proved that ICS was not immune to cyber threats. Although this attack was thwarted before any incident, it was only the fourth attack featuring malware targeting ICS.

“With growing integration of ICS into organization-wide networks, the profitability of an attack has increased, as has the surface area for vulnerabilities,” she says.

Both the private and public sectors were seen to have worked on internal governance in 2022, and the collaboration with the private sector will provide greater situational awareness and better analysis of industries at risk in 2023. Jablanski says internal governance will work to further build asset inventories , delegate security responsibilities, and bring OT and IT under one umbrella.

Behavioral analysis and anomaly detection are also set to play a key role in enhancing threat intelligence and overall security postures for network operations.

“Anomaly detection can alert on deviations from normal communication patterns, as well as variables within processes such as sensor readings and flow parameters,” says Jablanski.

“By combining this process data with communications data, we can gain actionable intelligence that informs security procedures and reduces overall risk.”

Jablanski ends by highlighting that globally, the importance of protecting critical infrastructure and building resilience across industrial sectors and hyperconnected facilities is becoming increasingly evident.

“Governments, public-private partnerships, insurance providers, and international organizations are all recognizing the need for robust cybersecurity measures in the face of growing threats,” she says.

“In the coming year, trust and verification will be more important than ever for OT cybersecurity stakeholders, who are concerned with everything from physical safety and environmental impacts to the provision of goods, services, and resources.”

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