The convergence of IT and OT systems can enable automation, reduce errors, and increase productivity.

TORONTO – With the increasing convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) systems, along with growing cybersecurity risks, organizations must adopt a unified approach to technology integration combined with a holistic security culture. To help organizations realize the benefits of a secure and effective IT/OT convergence strategy, global IT research and advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group has published its latest industry blueprint, Secure IT/OT Convergence.

The research blueprint explains that IT and OT are very different and complex systems. OT technologies were historically developed with little to no security since they are typically isolated from other networks that can connect to the cyber world. However, if these two systems are successfully and securely joined together, they can offer significant benefits such as increased flexibility, reduced costs, and better collaboration and decision-making for both the IT and OT teams.

“IT/OT convergence is less of a convergence and more of a migration,” says Ida Siahaan, research director at Info-Tech Research Group. “The previously separate OT ecosystem is migrating into the IT ecosystem, primarily to improve access via connectivity and leverage other standard IT capabilities for economic benefit.”

Info-Tech’s research indicates that this drive to merge IT and OT has resulted in challenges for Security and IT leaders and teams, including governing and managing IT and OT security and accountability, compliance with regulations and standards, and metrics for OT security effectiveness and efficiency.

As more organizations, including those in manufacturing, continue to adopt digital transformation, isolated OT systems will be a thing of the past. Info-Tech’s research advises organizations to use the following holistic framework and approach to prepare for IT/OT convergence:

Plan:

  • Initiate communication between the IT and OT teams.
  • Define roles and responsibilities by considering how the two groups interact.
  • Establish governance and build a cross-functional team.
  • Identify convergence elements and compliance obligations.
  • Assess your organization’s readiness.

Enhance:

  • Update your security strategy for IT/OT convergence.
  • Update your risk management framework by understanding the assets and threats for IT/OT systems.
  • Update your security policies to align with the OT system so that there is a uniform approach to secure both IT and OT environments, which has several benefits.
  • Update your business continuity, disaster recovery, and incident response plans.

Monitor and Optimize:

  • Implement awareness, induction, and cross-training programs by understanding the common challenges in IT security that affect secure IT/OT convergence.
  • Design and deploy converging security architecture and controls to simplify the security process.
  • Establish and monitor IT/OT security metrics for effectiveness and efficiency.

Secure IT/OT convergence can drive true business value and outcomes, especially in the manufacturing industry, where fewer errors and downtime and increased output can drive growth and productivity.

To learn more, download the complete Secure IT/OT Convergence.

For more information about Info-Tech Research Group or to access the latest research, visit infotech.com and connect via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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