cybersecurity strategy IT-OT

Developing a Cybersecurity Strategy for Your IT-OT Environment

October 30, 2023

The convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) has become increasingly common. This fusion of IT and OT has ushered in numerous benefits, such as improved efficiency and better decision-making processes. However, it has also exposed organizations to a significantly greater risk of cyber threats. The integration of IT and OT systems, while offering enhanced functionality, has created a unique and more complex attack surface that cybercriminals are eager to exploit.


The vulnerability of this converged environment stems from combining the traditionally air-gapped, critical infrastructure of OT with the interconnected, often internet-facing infrastructure of IT. Your organization’s cybersecurity strategy should be a collective effort involving various stakeholders, as proactive measures are crucial to prevent cyber threats and avoid the costly repercussions of reactive responses.


As eSentire, our partner in cybersecurity, aptly puts it, “It’s crucial that your team is informed on the organization’s security best practices, expectations, and policies.” To ensure your organization remains prepared, resilient, and secure, let’s delve into the essentials of building a robust cybersecurity strategy.

The Proactive Approach


Cybersecurity should never be a game of catch-up. Being reactive to cyber threats can be costly, both financially and in terms of reputation. It’s crucial to heed the wisdom of eSentire’s research, where they note that 77% of business leaders, particularly CEOs and boards, are optimistic about their organization’s preparedness for cyberattacks. However, technical leaders tend to be more cautious and foresee potential threats.


Proactive cybersecurity begins with the recognition that cyber threats are a question of ‘when,’ not ‘if.’ Instead of hoping for the best, your organization should anticipate and prepare for potential threats. Based on Kterio’s experience this is what companies should take into consideration for building a cybersecurity strategy proactive and risk-focused:


1. Collaborative Involvement


Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility that should involve the entire organization. As the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) emphasizes, it’s not the duty of one director with cybersecurity expertise but the collective effort of the entire board. All key stakeholders, from the executive leadership to IT and OT teams, need to collaborate to establish and implement effective security measures.


2. Risk Management


An effective cybersecurity strategy should be fundamentally rooted in risk management. Identify and assess potential risks within your IT-OT environment. Understand the value of your critical assets, the vulnerabilities that may be exploited, and the likelihood of various threats. This will enable you to prioritize your security efforts, allocating resources to where they are most needed.


3. Employee Training


As eSentire wisely highlights, “Your employees are your weakest link.” Human error is a leading cause of security breaches. It’s essential to provide comprehensive security awareness training for your workforce. Educate employees about best practices, how to recognize phishing attempts, and the organization’s security policies and expectations.


4. Incident Response Planning


Develop a well-defined incident response plan that outlines procedures to follow in the event of a security breach. Include communication protocols, a clear chain of command, and steps for containment, investigation, and recovery. Regularly test and update this plan to ensure its effectiveness.


5. Continuous Monitoring


Implement intrusion detection systems and monitoring tools to identify and respond to security incidents in real-time. Utilize Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions to analyze data from various sources for early threat detection and incident response.


6. Compliance and Regulations


Stay informed about industry-specific regulations and standards related to IT-OT security. Compliance with standards like NIST, ISA/IEC 62443, and ISO 27001 can guide your security efforts and ensure your organization meets legal and industry requirements.




A robust and proactive cybersecurity strategy is not an option but a necessity. As the statistics from eSentire demonstrate, optimism about your organization’s preparedness is often misplaced. Being proactive is the key to keeping your organization secure in the face of evolving cyber threats.


Remember that cybersecurity is not the responsibility of a single individual or department; it’s a collective effort that involves the entire organization. By focusing on risk management, employee training, incident response planning, continuous monitoring, and compliance with industry regulations, you can create a cybersecurity strategy that is truly proactive and resilient. Your organization’s security is only as strong as its weakest link, so ensure that every team member is well-informed and committed to protecting your digital assets and operations.

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