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Cybersecurity Challenges in IoT and OT: Investments and Breaches

Internet of things (IoT) and operations technology (OT) are among the greatest advancements in technology in recent times. They have made us more connected than ever and simplified the management of organizations. This is by the use of systems and devices linked to networks.

However, every positive step in the technology field comes with its limitations and challenges. IoT and OT face a wider range of cybersecurity challenges. Identifying these vulnerabilities and finding ways to secure your IoT and OT infrastructure is important. This article will help you do that effectively.

Keep reading for everything you should know about IoT and OT cybersecurity.

OT and IoT: Understanding The New Target for Cyberattacks

If you are a beginner, you might wonder what we mean by IoT and OT. Well, there are some differences between these two. However, they all aim to make organizations more efficient and productive. Let us understand what is the difference between IoT and OT and how they impact cybersecurity?

  • Internet of things (IoT) – This is a network of physical devices embedded with unique identifiers, sensors, and other software. These devices can exchange data with others over the internet without requiring any human input.
  • Operational technology (OT) – It is an early version of the internet of things consisting of hardware and software. OT controls and monitors how physical devices work and can detect or cause a change in their operations.

Now you have a brief background of these two. As we’ve seen, they are all revolutionary pieces of technology. They play an important role in streamlining workflows, especially data handling. However, as we also mentioned, these technologies also face various risks such as cyberattacks.

So, Why are IoT and OT the New Target for Cyberattacks?

IT has traditionally existed separately from OT. Besides, they weren’t connected to people or the outside world. This made them unattractive to cybercriminals because there wasn’t anything meaningful to gain from them, even if they hacked and gained access to your IoT devices.

However, IT and OT have merged with the latest technology advancements. Infact, they are now becoming almost inseparable, especially for industrial organizations. Their newfound connection to humans and the outside world has made them alluring targets for cybercriminals.

This is why organizations need to prioritize IoT and OT cybersecurity. They should ensure the physical assets and devices they deploy get protected from various threats. Otherwise, there can be severe consequences if an organization’s technological  infrastructure gets exposed.

One reason organizations are struggling to secure their systems is because of how fast internet connections come up. Most organizations can’t match this rate, a shortcoming that exposes them. That’s why you should outsource your OT security needs to an expert to ensure you get the best results.

Various OT security vendors can help secure your OT systems. But you need to ensure that you’re working with the best of them all. Check if the vendor has all the tools to help you manage your OT cyber security from a central point to make it as effortless as possible.

Many organizations have their IoT and OT systems attacked because they overlook their safety. Remember, cybercriminals look for the slightest opportunity to attack a network. Poor management of your OT security tasks will make your network a perfect target for attackers.

IoT and OT Cybersecurity Challenges

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There are various cybersecurity challenges that you must protect your business from. It is worth noting that IoT and OT systems aren’t designed with protection in mind. Thus, it is a perfect idea to understand the vulnerabilities they might face and come up with potential solutions for them.

Here are some of the cybersecurity challenges in IoT and OT:

  1. Outdated Hardware and Software

IoT devices are safe at the time of purchase. However, they get outdated, and new updates come up. If you aren’t keen, you might fail to update yours, leaving them with security loopholes that attackers can use to attack. Some IoT devices don’t get updated, putting users at risk. 

  1. Predicting and Preventing Attacks

Cybercriminals come up with new ways of attacking networks. It is essential to have systems that can help you detect and prevent attacks. This can be tricky to do because these devices process data instantly. Thankfully, AI and analytical tools are starting to help with detection.

  1. Data Privacy Threats

Data gets transmitted quickly from one physical device to another over the internet. It might be stored on a mobile device at one time, then on the web or the cloud. This makes it easy for data leakages to occur. That’s why it is essential to invest in robust cybersecurity systems.

  1. Challenges in Monitoring Networks and Systems

Figuring out the exact part of your network affected by a breach can be tricky. An organization can have tens of devices deployed on its network. None of these devices can be 100% safe from security threats. However, the main challenge is identifying a network’s affected part.

All these are challenges you must prepare for as an organization using IoT and OT systems. The best way to solve them is by investing in the right infrastructure. Also, you can encrypt communication between the devices you deploy and conduct IoT security analysis regularly.

Investing in Industrial Cybersecurity

The reality is that cybersecurity threats are becoming more widespread. A survey of various organizations showed that 94% experienced a security issue within the past year. Also, 87% of those whose systems got breached had their operations interrupted for more than a day.

This is why organizations need to increase their investments in OT cybersecurity. Fortunately, many organizations have started or are in the process of bolstering their OT security. This is by increasing their cybersecurity budgets, training employees, and implementing the best practices.

Proper Investments Can Help Solve OT Security Challenges

As a business owner, cybersecurity is an essential topic that you must keep in mind. It plays a significant role in the success of any business. With IT and OT converging, you need to make cybersecurity a priority. This article has outlined the challenges you might face and how to solve them.

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