Editor’s note: this article has been updated from its original text, published on Dec 15, 2020.
I’m excited to let you know that Vantage, our SaaS-powered platform for IoT and OT cybersecurity, is now fully available. Vantage is an innovative, cloud-based visibility and security solution for OT/IoT networks. It’s designed to meet the rapidly evolving requirements of IoT based-infrastructures.
To put this generation of OT security technology into perspective, let’s take a look back at the evolution of security strategies for critical infrastructure, industrial, manufacturing and government organizations.
Ten years ago, when I was responsible for securing critical infrastructure out in the field, such as a pipeline across a desert, keeping the control systems running and secure – so the oil and gas could keep flowing – was my number one objective.
At the time, the level of OT cybersecurity maturity, across the industry in general, was relatively low. Our goals were simply to get visibility and maintain strong segregation between the OT network and the rest of the world.
While that was the right strategy back then, today we’re facing a new situation that requires a very different approach. Segregating or air gapping OT networks is no longer an effective security measure – and, in some cases, it could even be harmful.
One of my main recommendations for making our infrastructure more secure is to embrace a cloud-based OT/IoT security strategy.
IT Security teams have learned that cloud-based security delivered in a SaaS platform can effectively manage cyber risks while also reducing complexity and cost. With the introduction of Vantage, those benefits are available to protect operational networks as well. More importantly, Vantage is already helping companies accelerate their digital transformation and improve operational resilience.
The OT Network is No Longer Just an OT Network
Conventional wisdom among security experts is that there are IT, IoT and OT networks. However, today’s OT networks are very different than the OT networks of ten years ago. They now include many IT machines and IoT devices like cameras, tablets, phones, badge-based access control units and barcode readers. Not to mention many IoT sensors at the field level. Sure, pure-play devices like PLCs are different, but the two network types are converging very quickly.
Nowadays, the fact is you can’t secure an OT network without also securing the IT and IoT devices on it. And the number of IoT devices is growing exponentially, increasing the attack surface, and making the volume of devices and data that need monitoring very high. So high in fact that monitoring and analyzing such a large volume of data on-premises will soon be impossible.
Unlimited Scale and Accelerated Deployment Speeds Digital Transformation
Let’s consider one of our customers in a traditional OT sector who is monitoring several hundred sites around the world. With the addition of IoT devices, they believe the amount of data generated will be impossible to process even if they deploy the most powerful on-premises appliances.
In fact, everything about on-premises infrastructure is expensive, and can only scale so far. Cloud-based solutions scale much faster and provide the CPU capability and power necessary to quickly analyze data in more sophisticated ways, providing operational and security insights.
Plus, think about this for a minute – saving money on infrastructure allows you to use those funds differently to improve your business. As competition changes and intensifies, re-allocating your spending could be an important strategy.
You Need Cloud Analytics to Optimize and Automate
Faster and deeper analysis enabled by cloud computing leads to more actionable security information and better automation of security tasks. Some of our large, cyber-mature customers have three full-time people just monitoring alerts every day. That isn’t an optimal use of resources today and it won’t be sustainable in the future.
To become more effective and efficient, you need better analysis of security-relevant data, better correlation of the data and clear scoring of risks. You also want to automate as many actions as you can to improve cyber resiliency. You have a suspect barcode reader? Automatically quarantine it until a deeper analysis can be done. You wouldn’t block a PLC, but many other cyber risks can be reduced through automated activities.
OT Security in the Cloud is Happening – Use Cases
Here are some situations that highlight the benefits of using cloud computing for OT/ IoT security and monitoring:
Industry Use Case Vantage Benefits
Protecting isolated operations by sending data directly from Guardian sensors to Vantage. Enables faster onboarding of multiple remote sites and eliminates need to backhaul data to a SOC. Delivers single console visibility of global operations.
Securing a high number of assets generating a high volume of network traffic. Using cloud-scale computing to deliver real-time awareness of threats and vulnerabilities for faster response and improved operational resilience.
Oil and Gas
Monitoring the rapidly growing number of IoT devices that are overwhelming existing monitoring technology. Highly scalable solution that supports an unlimited number of assets without suffering performance degradation.
Securing and monitoring for environments that are planning to deploy 5G for faster digital transformation.Capacity to deliver real-time analysis of hundreds of thousands of IoT assets across global operations.
Migrating SOC to the cloud.
Embrace Cloud-based OT/IoT Cybersecurity Now with Vantage
According to Gartner, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been “an acceleration of cloud adoption and an increase in trust of cloud solutions amongst organizations around the world. Cloud adoption is the de facto new normal.”1
This trend in happening in OT as well as IT, and today OT security is part of comprehensive digital security that enables digital transformation.
If you’re an ICS professional, after years of fighting rogue internet connections from production networks, cloud-based OT security and monitoring might feel counterintuitive. However, as the pandemic has shown us, it’s time for new, safe approaches, enabled by connectivity and cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies.
This point was driven home by advice from Jim Guinn, Global Managing Director with Accenture Security. In an oil and gas cybersecurity panel I participated in with him a few months ago, he urged people to learn about production operations in the cloud, including OT security, and embrace it as quickly as possible. Jim suggested looking at it from an operational asset owners’ mindset and from a cyber resilience perspective, and then figuring out how to use cloud to enable your business. His takeaway message – do it for the sake of your organization and your career.
Because we believe so strongly that cloud-based OT/IoT security can lower the risk of operational networks, we invested heavily in developing our brand-new platform, Vantage. Besides the industrial strength OT and IoT visibility and security we’re known for, this new product provides a user-centric design and protection for any number of assets anywhere, anytime.
To see Vantage for yourself, simply register for the webinar below, or Request a Demo or from your Nozomi Networks reseller or sales director.
- “Predicts 2021: Building on Cloud Computing as the New Normal” Gregor Petri, David Smith, Sid Nag, Henrique Cecci, Yefim Natis, David Cearley, Michael Warrilow, Gartner, December 14, 2020