The Power of OT Network Visibility
In this digital age, it’s critical to have visibility into operational technology (OT) networks. Without OT network visibility, it can feel like trying to navigate through a maze. You become blind to what’s occurring, you don’t know why something stopped, and you lack context to make good decisions.
By gaining visibility into the OT network, critical infrastructure such as manufacturing facilities and power generation plants can detect anomalies, see vulnerabilities and equipment failures in real-time, and take proactive measures to prevent downtime and mitigate risks.
With the ability to monitor and optimize the OT network, organizations can increase their resiliency leading to operational excellence and revenue. Let’s take a closer look at why OT network visibility is so important and what you can do to achieve it.
Benefits of OT Network Visibility
Speed Root Cause Analysis
When an issue occurs in an OT network, it can be challenging to pinpoint the exact cause without a clear view of the network and its components. That’s why OT network visibility is so important. Operators can quickly gather data on the event, including network traffic, system logs, and device behavior, which can be analyzed to determine the root cause. Then, operators can take corrective action to restore systems. The goal is to identify and address issues early so the frequency and severity of downtime events is reduced which improves the overall network reliability and performance.
Accurate Asset Inventory
OT network visibility plays an important role in maintaining accurate and up-to-date asset inventory in an OT environment. Maintaining an accurate asset inventory is necessary for effective asset management, maintenance, security, and compliance. The last thing you want is for changes or upgrades made across the network to go unnoticed. By monitoring the OT environment for new devices or changes to existing devices, organizations can quickly update their asset inventory and ensure that they have a complete and accurate view.
Enhance Operational Technology Security
Effective OT security starts with visibility. A lack of visibility into OT networks can leave operations vulnerable to cyberattacks and other security breaches, leading to significant financial losses and potential harm to human life. A recent SCADAfence survey found that 42% of OT experts biggest challenge for managing OT risks is a lack of visibility followed by 36% whose challenge is the disconnect between IT and OT teams.
When you have visibility, and a skilled team who can respond, anomalies and potential IT and OT security breaches can be detected early and mitigated before significant damage is done. Visibility is also extremely important for establishing a baseline of behavior to improve threat detection and response and enable the security incident response process. A solution like ProArch’s managed detection and response services applies IT and OT security best practices plus provides 24/7 investigation and response to stop threats before operational downtime occurs.
Understand Data Flows Between IT and OT
Understanding and having visibility into data flows between IT and OT networks is essential for effective security, data management, and operational efficiency. By having visibility into data flows and monitoring traffic, IT and OT networks can be better integrated, allowing them to leverage data and insights more effectively, including threat detection and response, lead to improved operational efficiency, reduced downtime, and better decision-making.
How to Achieve Visibility
There are several steps you can take to ensure greater visibility including:
- Creating network diagrams and data flow maps and/or utilizing asset inventory management solutions such as CMDBs or DCIMs.
- Leveraging automation technologies like Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can streamline processes while providing greater visibility into data flows.
- Implementing AI-driven anomaly detection solutions like Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and Microsoft Defender for IoT that can uncover anomalous behaviors within the system quickly and accurately. Working with a managed detection and response provider is also an option.
- Establishing IT/OT convergence strategies which integrate IT systems with OT systems in order to deliver a unified view of operations across both networks.
- Working with a partner like ProArch who can make sure your team has the visibility and resources needed to sustain operational efficiency.
Ultimately, having proper visibility into your operational technology (OT) network is essential for keeping up with today’s demand while ensuring optimal performance levels across the organization regardless if you are dealing with day-to-day operations or responding to potential cyber threats. With it, you can identify the source of the problem, like a faulty sensor or a misconfigured control system, and take action to prevent it from happening again.
ProArch’s OT Managed Services and Insights provides a clear view of the OT network to ensure smooth and uninterrupted operations. We help take the guesswork out of root cause analysis and improve decision-making capabilities at scale.