Dangerous Liaison: Operational Technology and IT Networks
Many of today’s threats are a result of vulnerabilities arising from the interconnection of cyber-physical systems. Bad actors take advantage of the blurred lines between cybersecurity that is focused on protecting IT networks and physical security that utilizes operational technology (OT). The surge of ransomware attacks illustrates the point and none better than the Colonial Pipeline assault that prompted the company to shutdown 5,500 miles of pipeline for five days. According to the company, they wanted “to isolate and contain the attack to help ensure the malware did not spread to the Operational Technology network, which controls pipeline operations.” Not only did Colonial pay a $5 million ransom to its attackers, now the company faces a class-action lawsuit because of fuel shortages caused by the shutdown. (Note: The Justice Department announced that it seized bitcoins valued at approximately $2.3 million as the part of the alleged ransom payment.)
OT such as access control and video surveillance systems, intrusion alarms, and home systems like video doorbells, HVAC and home automation systems, often has connections to IT networks. In some cases, IT management may not be aware of the interconnectivity of the two systems. Insite has issued a briefing with tips to mitigate risks that arise from these dependencies, including implementing robust segmentation protocols between IT and OT networks.
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