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Mitigating OT Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

Industries like manufacturing, oil and gas, and utilities are just a few of the industries that use OT (operational technology) as part of their digital transformations. But as more industries leverage OT, they must contend with new cybersecurity concerns. New vulnerabilities, as well as new regulations developed to manage these vulnerabilities, mean organizations must adjust their business practices and develop solutions to navigate increasing cybersecurity risks before it’s too late.

Concerns over OT security are certainly on the rise, according to a new research study. And they should be, considering the study says fewer than half (47%) of companies have an OT cybersecurity solution in place. Where there are gaps, there are risks, and where there are risks, there are legitimate concerns. So, the question is what can organizations do to fill their security gaps?

The new research study, which is from OTORIO and ServiceNow, includes input from 200 C-suite executives and directors in the U.S. and Canada. More than half (58%) of respondents labeled their OT cybersecurity risk level as high or critical. Almost half (49.7%) already have an established team in place to develop an OT security strategy but haven’t yet created that strategy. Most respondents (81%) also said they still manage their OT risks manually.

Meeting regulations is also an area of concern, the survey suggests, with 93% of respondents reporting they’ve experienced a moderate or high increase in regulations and standards in the past 12 months. To try to meet these regulations, 78% of respondents said they plan to increase their budget dedicated to OT cybersecurity, and the average planned budget increase is nearly 30%.

According to ResearchandMarkets, the global OT security market size is expected to reach $34.9 billion by 2028. The research firm says in the next five years, stakeholders will need to contend with two major issues: implementing new OT security solutions that accomplish things like asset identification, network visibility, and constant risk monitoring; and addressing the cybersecurity talent shortage. ResearchandMarkets points out OT security requires a specialized skillset that can be particularly hard to come by in the workforce.

Gartner recently released its top security trends for 2023, including the need to take a human-centric approach to building cybersecurity teams, which could ultimately help address the talent shortage. Gartner suggests CISOs that take a human-centric approach are more likely to attract and retain talent that improve their organizations’ functional and technical maturity. The firm predicts by 2026, 60% of organizations will shift from external hiring to “quiet hiring” (hiring internally) to address systemic challenges in cybersecurity and recruitment.

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