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June 20, 2023

Cybersecurity in Operational Technology: Why Does It Matter?

The gap between potential and current capabilities within the industrial operations segment is rapidly widening due to industrial businesses not modernizing fast enough. This includes industries such as mining, energy, or manufacturing, to name a few. Hence, the integration of modern technology within industrial operations has become a must-have. If industrial automation and manufacturing businesses want to maintain their competitive advantage, company profitability, and increased visibility within the industry, they must modernize, just like any other business. 

One of the technologies that play a crucial role in optimizing and managing industrial processes is operational technology (OT). But having modern OT is not enough. If industrial businesses want to withstand the test of time, they also need to stay protected from modern threats.

modern_OT_cybersecurityWhat is modern OT?

The primary objective of OT is to improve operational efficiency and productivity and ensure the safety and reliability of critical infrastructures. This is achieved by bridging the gap between information technology (IT) systems and the physical assets and processes that they oversee. 

The role of OT goes beyond basic process automation. It facilitates advanced functionalities, namely predictive maintenance, asset optimization, energy management, and data-driven decision-making. By collecting and analyzing data from sensors and connected devices, operational technology systems provide valuable insights into the performance, reliability, and health of machines, enabling proactive maintenance to prevent unexpected failures and costly downtime.

OT also plays a key role in ensuring the safety, security, and durability of critical infrastructure. While industrial systems become more connected, they also become more vulnerable to cyber threats at the same time. Increased connectivity comes with a larger number of possible attack vectors. At the same time, cybercriminals caught on to the importance of OT and critical infrastructure, and the number of cyber-attacks is rapidly growing, especially in recent years. As such, it is mandatory for OT systems to have integrated, robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard against unauthorized access, data breaches, and potential disruptions to indispensable devices.

As industries continue to unlock digital services, there’s no doubt that operational technology is evolving at a fast pace. It integrates with emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and cloud computing, further developing its capabilities and discovering new possibilities. This kind of convergence of IT and OT is opening the way for Industry 4.0 where automation, connectivity, and data-driven insights are revolutionizing industrial operations.

The CHARM project for modern OT 

CHARM_LOGO_blackAs technological developments in the OT industry progress at a fast pace, the CHARM (Challenging environments tolerant Smart systems for IoT and AI) project was launched to accelerate industry readiness. The project has a clear and concise objective – to address the challenges posed by harsh environments to the successful implementation of IoT and AI in smart industrial settings. 

SSH for the CHARM project and modern Operational Technology  

As part of the CHARM project, we at SSH are researching, developing, and deploying secure, scalable, and easy-to-use data security solutions. With our expertise in secure access technologies, we aim to improve the overall safety and security of OT companies. 

Learn more about the CHARM project and SSH’s role in it >>>


NOTE: The CHARM project has received funding from the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 876362. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and Finland, Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland.


Ilpo Ruohonen

VP, Technical Product Management and R&D

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