For most organizations, digital transformation is an essential evolution for preserving relevancy and competitiveness. It unlocks opportunities to gather new information and reveals insights that can quickly improve decision-making and operational efficiency, benefitting both growth and profitability.
In the Operational Technology (OT) space, digital transformation can help improve key metrics, such as increasing overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), improving production quality and quantity, and boosting performance and operational availability.
Global spending on digital transformation is expected to reach $6.8 trillion by 2023, according to IDC estimates. Yet digital transformation often translates to new risks, especially in OT where cybersecurity maturity typically lags that of IT.
What’s the nature of these digital transformation security risks?
- Connectivity is expanding the organization’s attack surface. OT systems are connecting to networks they never were before, extracting and transmitting data for analysis by multiple systems, such as ERP systems, residing on IT networks. Once IT and OT networks are bridged, pathways for cybercriminals to breach OT can be increased exponentially if countermeasures are not taken.
- New applications are being used to harness data and insights. Software applications are also being deployed in OT network environments to analyze operational data, essentially at the edge of the network. Many applications are cloud-based, increasing agility but exposing OT infrastructure to the internet and to supply chain risks.
Given the digital transformation security challenges in OT, it’s not surprising that industrial organizations transform more slowly than IT-centric industries. Yet the benefits are undeniable. For example, end-to-end connectivity enables supply chain track-and-trace, to manage quality more effectively and to address quality issues or recalls—helping protect your customers and your brand.
Where to begin
It’s best to start your digital transformation journey by building proper security in from the start. What if you’re already moving forward and must enhance security approaches and architectures that are in motion?
Wherever you start, these steps can help close the doors to OT breaches while leaving open a path to digital transformation: speed and automation: implementing a Zero Trust strategy, segmenting and hardening networks, and deploying continuous monitoring.
Step 1: Implement a Zero Trust strategy
Implementing Zero Trust helps reduce and mitigate successful cyberattacks. This is paramount when harnessing new technologies that leverage the benefits of digital data flow.
Zero Trust involves several key principles:
- Identifying and prioritizing business critical assets
- Defining protect surfaces (these are made up of DaaS elements, which are data, applications, assets, and services)
- Mapping transaction flows
- Designing an appropriate architecture, which may include micro-segmentation to separate the DaaS elements, enhanced identify and access management technology and policies related to the expected behavior of the data and the user or applications, as well as firewalls
- Continuous monitoring
In this way, a Zero Trust strategy can support the mechanics of digital transformation, such as securely adding new user populations, customer engagement models, and new automation technology including Internet of Things (IoT) and OT devices and sensors. Therefore it’s an excellent strategy for digital transformation security in industrial environments.
Step 2: Segment and harden networks
Network segmentation safeguards business critical assets by separating them from non-critical assets. Hardening security around them then helps to ensure that breaches in one part of the network do not go on to infect others.
A key network segmentation strategy is the Industrial Demilitarized Zone (IDMZ) - a boundary or ‘air gap’ that separates IT networks from OT environments. The IDMZ manages the separation of business systems from direct access to OT environments, helping protect industrial control systems in the event of an IT breach.
The air gap techniques and technologies that most industrial security standards rely on tend to run counter to effective digital transformation strategies. Security teams must decide how to map their Zero Trust approach to the right industrial security standard (ISA 62443, for example), to achieve compliance requirements while protecting OT environments from fast growing and continuously evolving threats.
Please contact Rockwell Automation for guidance in mapping industrial security standards to your Zero Trust strategy.