Summary

In January, we commissioned market research firm YouGov to survey nearly 900 senior IT/security professionals from oil and gas, utilities, transportation, and healthcare organizations around the globe. While our goal was to gauge their overall cybersecurity readiness, as part of our research, we sought to determine whether a particular technology management structure worked better than others in terms of security.

IT managing OT? OT managing IT? OT and IT managed separately? Or IT and OT managed together? Does the structure matter? Does it make a difference?

What we discovered was, yes, it does matter, it does make a difference, and the way an organization structures its technology organization appears to have a direct correlation to the strength of and confidence in its security posture.

The Winning Combo

A key takeaway: When managed together, IT and OT are better and more capable of providing a hardened security posture and stronger defense.

Even though nearly half of respondents said they’d experienced a cyber attack in the past year, only one-fifth of companies—where IT and OT are jointly managed—reported being attacked.

What’s more, not only did their co-management style appear to result in fewer cyber attacks in the past year, but these organizations also said they expect to experience fewer attacks in the future than those with alternative management structures (e.g., IT managing OT or IT and OT managed separately).

Time to Say So Long to Silos

No doubt, there needs to be a clear demarcation between those who understand IT and those who understand OT and control systems. The primary responsibility of IT is service delivery, often measured in service level agreements. The primary responsibility of OT is safety and process control, which extends to people, the environment, and assets.

However, as the survey indicates, for adequate cybersecurity readiness, IT and OT can no longer be siloed functions; they must align. This makes collaboration and cross training essential. OT should have access to IT expertise, and IT needs to understand the needs of the industrial side. A good place to start is with a collaborated focus on fundamental security practices such as network segmentation, access control, and incident response planning.

Short- and Long-term Security Investments

In the near-term, IT security will likely remain a top investment priority. However, it was heartening to see the survey reveal that, longer term, where OT-specific security did not currently exist in an organization, there is often a clear indication of plans to install it. This could indicate that organizations, while defaulting to IT-specific security solutions, are beginning to explore other options to complement their existing cybersecurity strategy.

At Wurldtech, we specialize in cybersecurity readiness for complex critical infrastructure environments. Our OT security experts and purpose-built solutions can help organizations identify security weaknesses, prioritize areas for improvement, mitigate immediate risks, and reduce the overall attack surface of critical infrastructure systems.

Critical Infrastructure Security Readiness

Cyber Security in OT

Are You Prepared?

Critical infrastructure has become a prime target for cyber attacks. As more and more organizations connect online to improve efficiency, automation, and competitiveness, the greater the risk of infiltration, infection, and disruption. Download your copy of this research report.

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About the author

Jeffrey Lewis

Cyber Global Marketing Leader, GE Digital

Described by many as a nearly obsessive, goal-oriented achiever, Jeffrey has a deep track record of digesting complex cyber security issues and defining programs that help customers undertake security maturity programs that help protect critical systems and vital information. Jeffrey is a recognized strategic thinker and amiable public speaker, known for taking dense cyber security challenges and drilling down the core business issues.  His unique perspective doesn't just create awareness, it stimulates thinking that drives action and yields results.

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