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Who Owns Industrial Cyber Protection?

"…reliance on control systems continues to expand across not only industrial settings, but also the operation and maintenance of our cities, our buildings and all kinds of modern smart applications. The convergence of IT and operational technology (OT) has now come into popular awareness as the lines between the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) have blurred and the media have given increased coverage to security breaches and their impacts"

2017 SANS Survey: Securing Industrial Control Systems, Executive Summary

IT vs. OT: What’s the Difference

Traditionally, industrial enterprises kept everything separate. The Information Technology (IT) group managed the office network where the environment was mild, internet speed was important and security of confidential information was the biggest concern.

Meanwhile, down in the plant, the Operations Technology (OT) team faced harsh environmental conditions with a closed, air-gapped network. Their primary object was simply to keep production running – safely.

A look at IT and OT priorities would look something like this:

IT vs. OT
Katherine Brocklehurst, “Cyberattacks and Bottom Lines: Who Has Responsibility for Industrial Cyber Risks?,” Advancing Automation eBook, Vol. III:20-25.

Today’s Picture: A Single Converged Network

Now, more devices on the plant floor need to be connected to the Internet. Remote locations must be managed from one central location. Executives in the office demand data to manage plant maintenance, upgrades, output quantity and quality and inventory levels.

That means blurry – or nonexistent – lines between IT and OT roles and responsibilities. The network of the future will be unified to serve both worlds.

Today’s Picture: A Single Converged Network

Automation & Data Exchange in Real-World Applications

Merging the automation networks of the factory (OT) with the data exchange office network (IT) requires intentional actions. Here are a few steps to get you started.

  • Know your assets – including the protocols and languages that run devices
  • Open lines of communication so everyone shares common vocabulary of terms (see Belden’s blog How Plant Operators Can Overcome the Language Barrier)
  • Leverage expertise from both IT and OT to re-align priorities (see Belden’s blog IT/OT Convergence Means Greater Resources for Both)
  • Set formal policies for network management, clearly defining converged roles & responsibilities
  • Promote ongoing education to learn & adapt best practices
Attend a IT/OT Convergence Roadshow

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