Cloud connectivity offers tremendous benefits for critical infrastructure operators. Sending data from operational technology (OT) devices to the cloud opens the door for asset owners to use remote diagnostic and analysis tools, improve supply chain management, adopt predictive maintenance and schedule planned downtime—improving the efficiency and resilience of operations in ways not possible before.
While beneficial, new cloud connections also introduce new risks. Every additional connected asset represents a potential access point for bad actors, even including nation-state level threats. This situation is compounded by the use of geographically distributed and sometimes wirelessly connected edge assets in the industrial internet of things (IIoT).
Consequently, OT asset owners have faced the dilemma of potentially introducing cybersecurity threats into their OT environments or losing out on the benefits of cloud-enabled analytics, data storage, systems monitoring and other high-value applications. Software-based security solutions fall short of ensuring the strong protection needed for critical infrastructure networks. Firewalls have been proven ineffective in stopping cybersecurity threats with any level of sophistication and are no longer considered a viable security control. Some security ‘solutions’ even have the potential to be hijacked by sophisticated threat actors who can use them to launch attacks on the OT.