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Securing OT’s future: Strategies to adapt in an evolving environment

June 12, 2024
Isolating systems to ensure their protection is no longer the norm for the industrial landscape and increased connectivity is essential for modern industrial operations.

A recent OT security report revealed a concerning statistic: only 55% of industrial organizations are effectively mitigating risks and security threats. This lack of preparedness likely stems from the predominant historical approach to OT security—isolating systems to ensure their protection.

However, this isolation is no longer the norm for the industrial landscape. Increased connectivity is essential for modern industrial operations, although connectivity also introduces new challenges, particularly in controlling access and reducing risk from cyber incursion.

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One of the most overlooked hurdles in implementing operational technology security solutions is the "cost of change." Traditional security solutions often require significant infrastructure modifications, which can disrupt critical operations, lead to higher costs, and even jeopardize safety.

To optimize costs, worker safety, and efficiency during the implementation of new security strategies, organizations, like power plant operator Rapac Energy, are looking for modernized access solutions that will enable them to keep cost of change as low as possible.

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Rapac Energy exemplifies the challenges of modern industrial organizations. They needed to securely connect external suppliers, support teams, and customers to their OT and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

However, their network remained isolated from the public internet for security and regulatory reasons. This disconnect generated significant cost and time-consuming processes while collaborating with essential partners such as service teams located across Europe.

The traditional approach of implementing a new security solution meant potentially disrupting their entire network and requiring extensive overhaul of their mission-critical legacy systems—a risk Rapac wasn't willing to take. This is where the integration of adaptable and flexible security solutions becomes crucial.

Modern strategies for ongoing challenges

Modern secure remote access (SRA) solutions address these concerns. Designed to enhance the security of OT environments with zero change management required, these solutions provide secure access for internal and external users, in hybrid, on-premises and remote environments—online or offline—without requiring-infrastructure changes. This minimizes disruption to operations, reduces costs and ensures continued safety.

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With modern SRA solutions in place, enterprises like Rapac are empowered with flexibility and adaptability amid evolving OT cyber threats and gain advanced capabilities including:

  • Secure access for third parties: Controlled access for all external users, such as Siemens support teams and Rapac customers, without compromising the security of the network.
  • Enforcing identity-based access to both legacy and modern systems: Continued support for both legacy and modern OT systems, eliminating the need for costly system upgrades.
  • Continuous authentication and authorization: Ongoing authentication and authorization for all users, ensuring only authorized individuals have access to specific systems and applications at any given time.


The future of OT security

The cost of change is a significant barrier for organizations looking to improve OT security. By adopting a solution that empowers scalability, without additional cost complexities, industrial organizations like Rapac Energy can achieve their security goals without compromising operational efficiency or safety.

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Through the integration of modern SRA solutions, Rapac saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by avoiding unnecessary infrastructure changes and employee travel costs and improved their overall security posture while delivering a positive user experience.

In today's connected world, prioritizing OT security is no longer a choice—it's a necessity. However, enterprises don’t need to fully overhaul their critical systems to enhance their security. With modern, adaptable solutions on the market, they have the option to strategically integrate key security solutions—ultimately creating a safer future for industrial environments.

About the Author

Almog Apirion

Almog Apirion is the CEO and co-founder of Cyolo, the Israel-based provider of secure remote access solutions, especially those in OT. In 2019, Almog and two leading “ethical hackers,” Dedi Yarkoni and Eran Shmuely, founded Cyolo after realizing the need for organizations to easily and securely make their apps—legacy, custom, cloud, etc.—available from anywhere to employees and third parties. Prior to Cyolo, Almog was the head of the cybersecurity unit for the Israeli navy and was CISO at Orbotech.