What is Operational Technology (OT)?
Operational Technology (OT) refers to the technology used to manage and control physical processes, systems, and infrastructure in industries such as manufacturing, energy, transportation, and utilities. This technology is often referred to as Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and includes a variety of hardware and software systems, such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, and distributed control systems (DCS).
OT systems are designed to work in harsh environments and support critical applications that require real-time monitoring and control. These systems are responsible for a variety of tasks such as monitoring and controlling industrial processes, controlling power generation and distribution, managing transportation systems, and providing real-time data to operators to make informed decisions.
OT systems are designed with specific characteristics in mind, such as reliability, availability, and safety. They often have a long life cycle and may be in use for several decades. OT systems can also be highly customized, as each industry has unique requirements that need to be addressed by the technology.
In addition to the hardware component, OT systems also rely on software applications to manage and control systems. These applications are often specialized and specific to industry requirements. They allow operators to monitor and control systems in real-time, and they also provide analytics and reporting capabilities to help organizations make informed decisions about process optimization and maintenance.
One of the key challenges in the OT space is cybersecurity. OT systems have traditionally operated in isolation and were not connected to the internet or other corporate networks. However, as more OT systems are connected to corporate networks, they become vulnerable to cyber threats. Cybersecurity threats to OT systems can cause significant damage, including production shutdowns, equipment damage, and even physical harm to workers.
To address these challenges, organizations are investing in cybersecurity technologies and processes to protect their OT systems. This includes implementing strict access controls, network segmentation, and endpoint security. It also involves training personnel on cybersecurity best practices and developing incident response plans.
In conclusion, OT refers to the technology used to manage and control physical processes, systems, and infrastructure in industries such as manufacturing, energy, transportation, and utilities. It includes a variety of hardware and software systems designed to work in harsh environments and support critical applications that require real-time monitoring and control. With the increasing connectivity of OT systems, organizations are placing a high priority on cybersecurity to protect against cyber threats.