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Enhancing Operational Technology Security: The Crucial Role of Asset Visibility

Operational Technology (OT) plays a pivotal role in the functionality of critical infrastructure sectors such as energy, manufacturing and transportation. As organizations increasingly digitize their processes, the need for robust security measures within OT environments becomes paramount. One key aspect of OT security is asset visibility – the ability to accurately identify, monitor and manage all assets connected to the OT network and/or isolated devices. In this blog post, I'll explore the significance of asset visibility in operational technology and how it contributes to overall cybersecurity. 

The Importance of Asset Visibility in OT 

Risk Management 

Asset visibility provides organizations with a comprehensive understanding of the devices and systems within its OT network. This knowledge is crucial for assessing and mitigating potential risks. By identifying and categorizing assets, organizations can prioritize security measures based on the criticality of each asset. 

Threat Detection and Response 

A lack of visibility makes it challenging to detect and respond to security threats effectively. Asset visibility enables the monitoring of operational endpoints, enabling organizations to identify unusual behavior or unauthorized access promptly. This proactive approach enhances the ability to respond swiftly to potential security incidents. 

Compliance and Regulation 

Many industries have specific regulations and compliance standards regarding the security of operational technology. Asset visibility ensures that organizations can demonstrate adherence to these standards by maintaining a clear inventory of all connected and isolated assets. This not only helps in audits but also establishes a foundation for a robust security posture. 

Asset Lifecycle Management 

Knowing the lifecycle of each asset is vital for maintaining a secure OT environment. Asset visibility facilitates tracking assets, from procurement to decommissioning. This knowledge empowers organizations to apply security patches, updates and upgrades in a timely manner, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities. 

Operational Efficiency 

Asset visibility contributes to operational efficiency by providing insights into the performance and health of OT assets. With a clear view of the endpoints, organizations can optimize processes, allocate resources effectively and ensure the continuous functionality of critical systems. 

Implementing Asset Visibility in OT Environments 

Asset Discovery Tools 

Utilizing advanced configuration management tools that identify asset inventory helps organizations automatically identify and categorize operational endpoints. These tools provide the depth and breadth required to understand asset status and configuration changes. 

Continuous Monitoring 

Asset visibility is an ongoing process. Continuous monitoring ensures that any changes or additions to the OT endpoints are promptly detected. This involves implementing an ecosystem of technology, including configuration management solutions, intrusion detection systems and security information and event management (SIEM) products. Integration is critical to making this process work within an organization.  

Collaboration between IT and OT Teams 

Effective asset visibility requires collaboration between IT and OT teams. Aligning their efforts and sharing insights ensures a holistic approach to security, addressing both IT and OT aspects. 

Asset visibility is a cornerstone of operational technology security. As organizations navigate the complexities of digital transformation, prioritizing asset visibility enables them to build a resilient and secure OT environment. By understanding the significance of each asset, organizations can proactively protect critical infrastructure, respond to threats efficiently and comply with industry regulations. In an era where cyber threats continue to evolve, asset visibility stands as a fundamental defense mechanism in safeguarding the operational technology landscape. 

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About the Author

Nick Cappi is Vice President, Portfolio Strategy and Enablement for OT Cybersecurity in Hexagon Asset Lifecyle Intelligence division. Nick joined PAS in 1995, which was acquired by Hexagon in 2020. In his role, Nick oversees commercial success of the business, formulates and prioritizes the strategic themes, and works with product owners to set strategic product direction. During his tenure at PAS, Nick has held a variety of positions including Vice President of Product Management and Technical Support, Director of Technical Consulting, Director of Technology, Managing Director for Asia Pacific Region, and Director of Product Management. Nick brings over 26 years of industrial control system and cybersecurity experience within the processing industries.

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