OT organizations are being hit with more cyber threats than ever

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Operational technology (OT) systems are being hit with more cyberattacks than ever before, a new report from cybersecurity experts Fortinet claims. However, while organizations are doing their best to improve their security posture and secure their premises, they are still failing at key points. 

Fortinet surveyed more than 550 OT professionals across the world, working in all kinds of industries, to uncover the best practices in enhancing security and reducing risks in OT environments, finding almost three quarters (73%) of organizations faced OT attacks this year.

Last year, this figure was 49%, suggesting a significant increase in mere 12 months.

Fortinet's recommendations

It’s not just about the breadth of the attacks, either. The frequency has also significantly increased, as a third (31%) of respondents reported more than six intrusions in the past year. The year before, just 11% reported the same thing. 

Fortinet suggests cybercriminals have been quick to adapt to current security measures, while organizations lagged behind. Complete visibility of OT systems in central security operations dropped by half, from 10% in 2023, to a mere 5% this year. And finally, the company stressed that the responsibility for OT cybersecurity is increasingly being elevated to executive leadership, with a rise in alignment with CISOs and other C-suite roles.

To address these challenges, Fortinet recommends companies segment their infrastructure to create defensible network zones, establish visibility and compensate controls for OT assets, integrate OT into security operations and incident response planning, and embrace OT-specific threat intelligence and security services.

Finally, firms should consider a platform approach, as that will simplify and consolidate their security architecture.

“Fortinet’s 2024 State of Operational Technology and Cybersecurity Report shows that while OT organizations are making progress in strengthening their security posture, teams still face significant challenges in securing converged IT/OT environments,” said John Maddison, Chief Marketing Officer at Fortinet.

“Adopting essential tools and capabilities to enhance visibility and protections across the entire network will be vital for these organizations when it comes to reducing the mean time to detection and response and ultimately reduce the overall risk of these environments.”

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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.