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Fortinet’s global survey reveals critical challenges in OT security


June 28, 2022  by Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Fortinet recently released its global 2022 State of Operational Technology and Cybersecurity Report. According to Fortinet, the report uncovered widespread gaps in industrial security and indicated opportunities for improvements. The company noted that industrial control environments continue to be a target for cyber criminals, with 93 percent of Operational Technology (OT) organizations experiencing an intrusion in the past 12 months.

Here are some of the findings in the report:

  • OT activities lack centralized visibility, increasing security risks. The Fortinet report found that only 13 percent of respondents have achieved centralized visibility of all OT activities. Additionally, only 52 percent of organizations are able to track all OT activities from the security operations center (SOC). At the same time, 97 percent of global organizations consider OT a moderate or significant factor in their overall security risk. The report findings indicate that the lack of centralized visibility contributes to organizations’ OT security risks and weakened security posture.
  • OT security intrusions significantly impact organizations’ productivity and their bottom line. The Fortinet report found that 93 percent of OT organizations experienced at least one intrusion in the past 12 months and 78 percent had more than three intrusions. Consequently, nearly 50 percent of organizations suffered an operation outage that affected productivity with 90 percent of intrusions requiring hours or longer to restore service. Additionally, one-third of respondents saw revenue, data loss, compliance and brand value impacted as a result of security intrusions.
  • The Fortinet report found that ownership of OT security is not consistent across organizations. The report found that OT security management falls within a range of primarily director or manager roles, ranging from the director of plant operations to manager of manufacturing operations. Only 15 percent of survey respondents said that the CISO holds the responsibility for OT security at their organization.
  • The report also finds that OT security is gradually improving, but security gaps still exist in many organizations. When asked about the maturity of their organization’s OT security posture, only 21 percent of organizations have reached level 4, which includes leveraging orchestration and management. A larger proportion of Latin America and APAC respondents have reached level 4 compared to other regions. More than 70 percent of organizations are in the middle levels toward having a mature OT security posture. At the same time, organizations face challenges with using multiple OT security tools, further creating gaps in their security posture. The report found that a vast majority of organizations use between two and eight different vendors for their industrial devices and have between 100 and 10,000 devices in operation, adding complexity.

John Maddison, executive vice-president of products and CMO at Fortinet said, “This year’s global State of OT and Cybersecurity Report demonstrates that while OT security has the attention of organizational leaders, critical security gaps remain. PLCs designed without security, continued intrusions, a lack of centralized visibility across OT activities, and growing connectivity to OT are some of the critical challenges these organizations need to address. Security converged into the OT networking infrastructure, including switches and access points and firewalls, is essential to segment the environment. This combined with a platform that spans OT, converged OT/IT and IT provides end-to-end visibility and control.”

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