As industries increasingly digitize, the need for robust cybersecurity to protect industrial operations and critical infrastructure has never been greater. Speaking with customers across industries – in manufacturing, utilities, transportation, energy, and more – I hear again and again that protecting their operational technology (OT) is one of their top priorities. And to better address this global threat landscape, they are looking for ways to unify IT and OT cybersecurity.

Cisco’s commitment to helping organizations digitize and secure their operational environments has recently been recognized. Today, I’m proud to share that Forrester Research named Cisco a Leader in the OT security market in their latest report, “The Forrester Wave™: Operational Technology Security Solutions, Q2 2024”.

Cisco is best known for enterprise networking and cybersecurity. But we have also been helping industrial organizations around the globe to digitize and secure their operations for over 20 years, building a deep understanding of operational technology OT requirements, a market-leading industrial networking portfolio, and a broad range of advanced cybersecurity capabilities. All of this together is a rare combination. We call it Cisco Industrial Threat Defense.

In particular, the Forrester report states “Cisco Industrial Threat Defense is a comprehensive solution to protect, detect, and remediate threats across IT and OT environments. Cisco envisions the network as the fabric to secure OT at scale, which is not surprising given the challenges of securing legacy industrial control devices.”

The imperative for unified IT and OT security

For too long, OT security has been perceived as a specific cybersecurity practice to be managed with “point products”. As industrial organizations start deploying these, they realize that they need most of their IT cybersecurity tools to properly protect the OT environment, and that they also need to detect and remediate threats across domains. With Splunk, we are building a comprehensive and unified IT/OT cybersecurity platform helping our customers solve these issues. I’m thrilled to see Forrester giving Cisco the highest possible score in the vision criterion.

Cisco Industrial Threat Defense is not just a “point product” for one piece of the OT security puzzle. It’s a comprehensive, pre-integrated solution that is breaking the traditional silos between IT and OT security:

  • Unified visibility across both IT and OT networks with the Splunk security platform combined with Cisco XDR helping security teams to correlate events, detect advanced threats faster, and orchestrate remediation across their entire security stack.
  • Industry-leading threat intelligence to be always current on latest threats with Cisco Talos, one of the world’s largest private cybersecurity research team.
  • Comprehensive visibility into the industrial environment with Cisco Cyber Vision to understand the OT security posture and fuel security tools with OT context.
  • Superior management of OT vulnerabilities with Cisco Vulnerability Management to prioritize patching with real-world exploit data and predictive modeling.
  • OT asset protection against malware, malicious traffic, and unauthorized use of USB devices with Cisco Secure Endpoint.
  • Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA) for OT with Cisco Secure Equipment Access (SEA) to streamline and control remote access from OT vendors and contractors.
  • Automated and dynamic network segmentation with Cisco Secure Firewall and Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) to help contain breaches.
  • Advanced control of outbound traffic from the industrial network to cloud resources with Cisco security service edge (SSE) and Umbrella.
  • Validated design guides providing the blueprint for a robust architecture, helping organizations easily design and deploy end-to-end OT security solutions.
  • Specific services to help design, deploy, and operate the ideal IT/OT security architecture for your use case, including Talos incident response services to help test your defense and recover from a breach.

Our OT security solution offers all the capabilities industrial organizations need, right out of the box. But as Forrester puts it, “…customers [have] the option of leveraging the entire Cisco platform or integrating with other technologies to protect existing investments.” Cisco is committed to enabling an open ecosystem. Industrial Threat Defense is a modular solution where customers can choose third-party vendors working alongside Cisco products.

Converging security and networking to deploy at scale

Protecting industrial operations means profiling and monitoring tens of thousands of industrial assets, often installed in hard-to-reach locations. The traditional approach consisting of deploying dedicated appliances for OT visibility, threat detection, network segmentation, and secure remote access is proving too complex to deploy, too costly to scale, and in some cases just impractical.

As we define the networking standards of the future, Cisco Industrial Threat Defense embeds these OT security features in industrial switches and routers. This means that the Cisco network sees everything that connects to it, assesses the OT security posture, enforces security policies, enables zero-trust remote access, and more. This unique deployment architecture makes it simple for network managers to deploy OT security at scale.

Emerson Cardoso, Chief Information Security Officer at CPFL Energia, notes how powerful this security integration is, remarking that “after evaluating multiple OT security vendors, we found Cisco’s solution to be the most suitable for securing distributed substations. Cisco’s OT visibility solution does not require sending massive volumes of traffic over the WAN and is fully integrated with other security tools, making it simple to deploy an end-to-end solution.”

Our comprehensive, pre-integrated suite of security products enables security teams to achieve advanced outcomes while reducing the time, complexity, and gaps incurred by the need to make point products work together. With the addition of Splunk to our portfolio, Cisco will bring more innovations to OT and IT security, making our solutions even better for our customers.

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Vikas Butaney

SVP / GM, Cisco Networking

SD-WAN, Multicloud, and Industrial IoT