Cybersecurity has become a regular conversation topic at my dinner table, initiated by my kids and husband. The attack on the Colonial Pipeline brought us long lines at the gas stations and threatened to close school. The attack on the world’s largest meat processing company, JBS, had us wondering if we’d have to radically change the way we eat.

The experiences of just one family hint at the massive impact of industrial security breaches on individuals and businesses. Cyber attacks on industrial assets like robots, pipelines, utility smart meters, and service fleets can halt processes—or silently change them. Strong cybersecurity helps to keep trains running, drinking water safe, electricity flowing, and products coming off the assembly line.

Unfortunately, IT cybersecurity practices that work in the enterprise are not always appropriate for industrial environments. For example, the downtime required to install a simple patch can bring down a production line, affecting revenues, stock price, and customer satisfaction.

Teamwork between OT and IT

To be effective, industrial cybersecurity requires tight collaboration between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT). In other words, industrial security is a duet, not a solo. The IT team brings knowledge of security and the network. The OT team contributes expertise and insight into operational and process control technology, such as when machines can be taken offline without affecting production.

But collaboration between IT and OT isn’t simple. The two teams have different priorities, different jargon. To meet their common goal—protecting the industrial network without disrupting production—IT and OT need a platform that brings them together, which we call IT and OT convergence.

Visibility: a good starting place

We built Cisco Cyber Vision to deliver a leading industrial cybersecurity solution that helps IT and OT work together. Cyber Vision automatically discovers all assets connected to the network. That’s crucial—you can’t protect the network if you don’t know what is connected to it. Cyber Vision takes a baseline of each asset’s normal behavior so it can alert both teams when behavior deviates from the norm. It also integrates with Cisco’s security architecture.

Using Cyber Vision, IT can extend the visibility and control across the enterprise network to the operational network. And OT gets a security solution that allows them respond to anomalies while keeping production humming.

For more about collaboration between IT and OT, check out this white paper.

Summing up

I never would have imagined that this year’s cyber events would hit so close to home. Thankfully, the right tools and practices for visibility and risk mitigation are available today. Industrial cybersecurity can’t be a solo performance by either IT or OT—it has to be a duet. Cisco Cyber Vision makes a great conductor.

Learn more about securing the industrial IoT in this video interview with Michael Shannon, Cisco VP of Engineering for the IoT Business Group. 17 min.

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Patty Medberry

Senior Manager, Product Marketing

Cisco IoT