Untangling IT-OT Security Knots with a Zero Trust Platform Approach

Organizations today are grappling with the complexities of digital transformation, a shifting threat landscape with the emergence of new technologies. Security teams are feeling this strain, struggling to ensure effective and resilient cybersecurity for an increasingly integrated IT-OT infrastructure. This dilemma is underscored by findings from a recent study we published with ABI research involving nearly 2,000 critical infrastructure enterprises globally. Over 60% of respondents identified the complexity of OT security solutions as their primary concern.

The State of OT Security Report highlights the challenges that industrial organizations face as they implement OT security solutions. Amidst these challenges, there's a growing consensus on the need to tackle these issues head-on while embracing key trends in the industry.

How Complexity Can Impact OT Security Implementation

40% of survey respondents emphasize the challenge of coordinating OT and IT strategies, highlighting the historically siloed nature of IT and OT operations. This separation adds complexity to security operations, considering that 7 out of 10 OT attacks originate within IT environments. Only 12% of survey respondents say their OT and IT teams are aligned. Without IT/OT alignment, an effective security posture across both environments can be much harder to implement and manage.

The imperative for a converged IT and OT security approach is underscored by complexities, misalignments and often disparities in resource allocation, particularly for OT environments. McKinsey has observed:

“...strengthening cybersecurity governance and operating models across OT and IT teams helps clarify ownership, roles and responsibilities related to protecting plant assets and fostering collaboration and coordination.”

In the State of OT Security Report, 7 out of 10 professionals surveyed indicated their intention to consolidate IT and OT solutions under the same cybersecurity vendor. Opting for a unified security vendor for both IT and OT can effectively address complex challenges for organizations. Using multiple technology stacks within and across IT and OT environments often paves the way for organizational divergence, leaving vulnerabilities and inefficiencies in its wake.

To fortify governance and operational models, organizations can embrace a unified approach, leveraging the same platform for IT and OT security. This streamlining reduces complexity and ensures a cohesive strategy that effectively protects against threats by promoting a secure, consistent and collaborative environment between IT and OT teams.

Zero Trust Is a Principle for Simplification and Unification

Zero Trust represents a paradigm shift toward simplification and unification in OT security. In fact, 87% of respondents in the State of OT Security report recognize Zero Trust as the right approach to OT Security. Despite challenges, such as policy control complexities and compatibility with legacy devices, Zero Trust offers a comprehensive lens through which security professionals can view protection.

In essence, Zero Trust is both a unifying and a simplifying principle. It encourages security professionals to view protection through a comprehensive lens, ensuring that each component adheres to the same stringent verification processes regardless of its nature or origin. This approach heightens security and streamlines the management and operational aspects of security implementation and management, making Zero Trust an indispensable strategy for unifying and simplifying contemporary OT security.

The Platform Solution to OT Security Challenges

Platformization further reinforces this unified approach by bringing OT and IT together. Divergent solutions often create complexity and contribute to organizational misalignment. By aligning solutions with a platform approach, organizations reduce complexity and foster alignment between IT and OT. With Zero Trust principles integrated at its core, a converged platform helps ensure a comprehensive security posture capable of addressing both present and future threats.

At Palo Alto Networks, we focus on responding to security professionals' present and evolving needs by delivering a unified platform that transcends the traditional OT and IT security boundaries. This holistic strategy encompasses everything from advanced security inspections to complete visibility and control over legacy and modern OT systems. By offering a solution that covers every OT environment, including both OT and 5G networks and assets, as well as remote operations, we optimize and seamlessly integrate network protection against a multitude of threats.

In essence, by integrating Zero Trust principles and adopting a converged approach, organizations can more effectively navigate OT security complexities. A unified strategy not only addresses operational complexity and organizational silos but can also transform security implementation, unifying and simplifying the protection of mission-critical environments.

Read the State of OT Security report to understand today’s dangers and risks to OT security more deeply. Learn how a Palo Alto Networks Zero Trust OT Security solution can transform your security strategy by unifying and simplifying the complexities of OT security implementation.

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Article Link: Untangling IT-OT Security Knots with a Zero Trust Platform Approach