Operations technology (OT) is the term used in industrial operations. It comprises control systems, networks and other industrial automation components that control physical processes and assets. Control systems are at the heart of the nation’s critical infrastructure, which includes electric power, oil and gas, water and waste water, manufacturing, transportation, agriculture and chemical factories.
Industrial control systems (ICSs), which are a part of the OT environment in industrial enterprises, encompass several types of control systems, including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, distributed control systems (DCSs), and other smaller control system configurations such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs), remote terminal units (RTUs), intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) and other field devices.
ICSs were originally designed to increase performance, reliability and safety by reducing manual effort. Security was achieved by physical isolation, or a so-called air gap (security by obscurity).
Today, the world is talking about connecting everything to the Internet. The fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) —a term used to draw together cyber-physical systems—the Internet of things (IoT) and Internet of services, has started to find more resonance with OEMs, system integrators and asset owners. Thus, it is only a matter of time before a lot of ICS information is routed to sophisticated applications across enterprises through a wide area network where security by obscurity no longer offers valid protection. Governments plan to connect ICSs to the Internet for projects such as smart grids and smart cities, which will significantly increase the risk of intrusion from malicious actors.
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