With operation technology becoming vital to industrial operations, it is important to safeguard against cyber threats and protect your business.

Operational technology (OT) maintains efficiency and automation in the critical infrastructure sector, limiting risks while maximising safety and security. However, as key industries continue to drive systems using OT, failures in the technology can lead to consequences beyond financial losses.


OT overview  

According to McKinsey and Company, around 90 percent of manufacturing organisations had their production or energy supply hacked in 2021, while 70 percent of all ransomware attacks occured in the manufacturing sector in 2023.

Ensuring you have proper protections in place for industrial control systems is becoming increasingly important as incidents focused on infiltrating and disrupting OT systems continue to rise. While technology has enhanced industrial operations in the critical infrastructure sector, it has also increased the cybersecurity risk faced by these organisations. Connectivity may improve efficiency, but it also opens new avenues for cyber attacks. 



While facing this increased vulnerability, OT experts must also juggle day-to-day operations to ensure that business is smooth and reliable. In traditional IT environments, software and hardware are regularly updated and assessed for vulnerabilities, whereas the OT sector is often forgotten about for long periods of time. This is due to resourcing challenges, management changes and plant availability, resulting in OT systems which are outdated and cannot be updated in a cycle which increases security issues.

Around the world, organisations have begun to understand the importance of implementing cybersecurity programs specified to OT, so it’s vital that Aussie companies stay ahead of the game.


Building long-term resilience 

For any organisation using OT, protecting critical infrastructure should be a main priority. Rockwell Automation suggests utilising a multi-layered security approach combining tools which protect endpoints, data, applications and networks. Whether part of IT or OT, all endpoints should be monitored and protected.

To further strengthen a company against the risk of a cyber attack, Rockwell emphasises the importance of zero-trust architecture, a system which assumes no implicit operational trust when accessing business critical assets. By running a risk assessment to identify vulnerable areas within an automated system, businesses can implement the security measures most suited to individual needs. 

However, adopting a zero-trust model can mean a shift in the organisation’s mindset. While it can be tricky, it is an essential part of protecting important data, through initiatives such as network segmentation, multi-factor authentication, frequent asset inventories, and OT patching.


operational technology


Cybersecurity 101

Dragos, an industrial cybersecurity company intent on safeguarding business technology, says that looking at the SANS key ICS Cyber Security Critical Controls is a great way to ensure your business is protected. These controls include;

  • Build an ICS incident response plan – Create different plans which cover scenarios requiring collaboration between departments. For example, a ransomware plan may include operations, engineering, public relations, legal, data privacy, customers and regulators. These plans should be tested under normal conditions to ensure all departments are across their roles.
  • Set up a defensible architecture – Understand which systems are important for OT operations, and then develop rigorous security controls and response plans.
  • Ensure OT visibility and monitoring – Preventative cybersecurity is most effective when made visible, allowing for early threat detection and rapid incident responses. Make sure you are monitoring operations regularly and backing up data.
  • Enable secure remote access – Secure remote access, or MFA, reduces the risk for organisations working across systems, whether this means vendor access to file movements or employees to work from home. It doesn’t require lots of money, but it does make a big difference
  • Manage risk-based vulnerability – It is impossible to secure all parts of a business and monitor every interaction. However, by pinpointing gaps and vulnerabilities, organisations can focus attention on them and resolve these issues swiftly

Cybersecurity should be a constant aspect of a business, and a proactive past of safeguarding important information. 

For help in protecting your business, Rockwell Automation provides several industrial cybersecurity solutions and specialist OT analysis. Whether you’re looking for project-based protection or long-term security improvements, it’s important to understand what’s happening in the world of industrial automation to keep your organisation safe.

Interested in this story on operational technology? To read about the ways AI can lead to business resilience, click here.