Industrial control systems (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems are examples of operational technology (OT) systems that are used to control and monitor physical processes in industries such as manufacturing, energy, and transportation. These systems are typically designed with functionality and dependability in mind, rather than security. As a result, they are vulnerable to cyber attacks that have the potential to disrupt or damage critical infrastructure.
Some of the cybersecurity risks associated with OT systems include:
- Unpatched vulnerabilities in software and hardware that can be exploited by attackers
- Inadequate access controls that allow unauthorized individuals to access or modify system settings
- Lack of monitoring and detection capabilities that make it difficult to detect and respond to cyber incidents
- Insufficient incident response plans that can prolong the duration of an attack and increase the damage caused
How safe is Operational Technology from threats?
Previously isolated and protected OT systems are now vulnerable to the same security threats that regularly target IT systems, such as ransomware and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
According to a 2020 report on OT security, 90% of organizations experienced at least one OT system intrusion incident in the prior year.
While the OT community is very interested in cyber security, there is a significant knowledge gap, with many organizations ill-equipped to deal with new threats.
Digital twins for Operational Technology
A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical asset or system that can be used for simulation, analysis, and optimization. In the context of operational technology (OT), a digital twin can be used to simulate the behavior of industrial equipment, such as a manufacturing machine or a power plant, in order to optimize its performance and predict potential failures. By creating a digital twin of an OT system, engineers and operators can test changes and upgrades in a simulated environment before implementing them in the real world, reducing the risk of downtime or other disruptions. Additionally, digital twins can be used to monitor and analyze the performance of an OT system in real-time, helping to identify potential issues and take preventative actions.