The Internet of Things can mean a lot of different things depending on who you are and what you do. For manufacturers, it typically involves using new discrete devices to measure and monitor aspects of your operations that have historically proven hard to track, and turning your observations into actionable insights.
It’s the convergence point between IT and Operational Technology (OT), and represents huge changes for teams on both sides of the fence – and not necessarily ones that will come naturally to them.
For the OT team, the arrival of new devices that monitor and connect production equipment means their job is about to get a lot more technical. On the IT side, to understand the huge volumes of data flooding in from newly connected technology and processes, IT teams will need to work to better understand the physical side of their company’s manufacturing operations.
We recently prepared a new insights paper looking at the security challenges associated with embracing the Industrial Internet of Things, calling on expert insights from a number of notable organisations in the industry.
One such expert was Dharminder Debisarun from Palo Alto Networks. During our discussion with him, he shed interesting new light on how the relationship between IT and OT is critical to maintaining security—and why the best way forward is creating a holistic IoT security strategy that involves everyone.
The IT challenge: Managing a major influx of new devices and traffic types
For the IT team, the early days of a new IoT project can be extremely overwhelming. There are a huge number of new devices and traffic types to keep track of, all communicating with each other, with internal systems, and even with external parties in some cases.
The core of the problem is that ultimately, these aren’t technologies that the IT team are used to handling. They don’t have a strong understanding of what their normal behaviour and traffic patterns look like, which means that when it comes to detecting security threats, they can’t spot malicious traffic amongst the noise.
To handle this, IT teams need to call on the expertise of the OT team. It’s the OT people that understand this operational tech, and they have an important role to play in defining what normal activity looks like, so that policies can be created to govern this new traffic.
The OT challenge: Having to play an active role in protecting tech and the network
Industrial IoT is an extremely exciting proposition for OT teams. It offers them insights that can completely transform the way they operate, creating new opportunities for process improvement and huge efficiency gains.
But that opportunity comes at a cost—it’s taking OT professionals into a world where they’re not especially comfortable yet. With operational tech connected to the core network, OT teams become part of an extended IT team, and have to uphold new responsibilities around security and protecting the network their tech is a part of.
For many, this represents a significant change in how they work. OT teams are experts in machinery, and in the physical technologies that are essential to manufacturing. Thrusting IT-related responsibilities upon them isn’t always going to be welcomed.
The key to overcoming this is effective education, and the earlier you can start it the better. IT and OT teams should be consulted together as you plan an IoT project – giving them an opportunity to share their thoughts, understand the impact it’s likely to have on their roles, and clearly agree on shared responsibilities.
The CISO: Bridging the gap and overseeing a holistic security strategy
To secure IoT operations and infrastructure effectively, everyone needs to be on the same page. To help facilitate that, we expect to see the emergence of a new role within the factory—a security leader that sits between IT and OT operations, leading a holistic security strategy from the top.
With a clear understanding of the responsibilities and needs of both teams, this new breed of CISO will be perfectly positioned to help everyone adapt to the role changes brought on by IoT, and ensure that they get the most from it.
Find out more
Learn more about securing the factories of the future by downloading our new insight paper now. Inside you’ll find more expert viewpoints and advice, designed to help manufacturers just like you become more resilient against the biggest threats facing connected factories.