Operational Technology (OT) networks play a critical role in manufacturing, defense, emergency services, food and agriculture, financial systems, and critical infrastructure, just to name a few. OT networks and devices include supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and industrial control systems (ICS). They might be deployed anywhere – inside an automated manufacturing floor, outside a chemical processing plant managing valves and switches, on a rig in the middle of the ocean, or out in the arctic monitoring oil and gas pipelines. OT systems often perform simple yet essential tasks, such as monitoring a valve and shutting it off when a certain value is triggered. As a result, they can perform their tasks with little change for years. Which also means they sometimes run on aging operating systems and obsolete hardware using home grown applications. Since the goal for an OT system is to run exactly as designed, even patches are only applied if they do not hinder the process of the OT system.
The Operational Technology (OT) networks (such as industrial control and supervisory control and data acquisition systems [ICS/SCADA]) that run today’s modern society are a collection of devices designed to work together as an integrated and homogenous system. If one of these systems fails, it can have a catastrophic domino effect. For example, electricity requires telecommunications to transfer information on wheeling power from the electrical grid.