Not long ago, the operational technology (OT) networks used in environments such as factories and critical infrastructure were air-gapped, meaning they were not connected to the internet. But today, the once-siloed worlds of OT and information technology (IT) are seeing greater interconnectivity due to digital transformation and support for scarce or remote workers. This connectivity can enhance production via data sharing and new cloud-based tools that allow organizations to tap into new business value. One of the main drawbacks of IT/OT convergence, however, is that ever-evolving cyberthreats now have easier access to previously air-gapped OT environments, jeopardizing the benefits of this integration.
Operational technology systems are particularly vulnerable because they were designed to implicitly trust everything within their environments. Organizations should therefore be evolving toward a zero-trust cybersecurity model, one that continuously verifies the trustworthiness of users and devices while controlling access based on contextual information.