Incident & Breach Response , Managed Detection & Response (MDR) , Security Operations

Operational Technology: The Next Security Challenge

Verizon's Christopher Novak on Addressing Industrial Control Systems Vulnerabilities
Operational Technology: The Next Security Challenge
Chris Novak of Verizon Enterprise Solutions

Now that more breaches are targeting industrial control systems, organizations that have paid little attention to operational technology security must ramp up their protection efforts, says breach response expert Christopher Novak, director of Verizon's global investigative response unit.

Novak, a principal author of Verizon's annual Data Breach Investigations Report, says industrial control systems that can be accessed remotely are particularly vulnerable to hackers, citing as an example a case involving the hacking of controls for a steam power plant.

For many organizations, operational technology environments are usually managed separately from information technology, he explains in an interview with Information Security Media Group.

"Since so much of what lives in the OT world is so old, a lot of it was never really designed to be connected to an IT environment or be accessible remotely," he notes. "There are many such challenges on the OT side that the IT world hasn't really contemplated, or it's not that simple of an adjustment or a fix."

The security of OT environments has largely been neglected because organizations assumed these environments wouldn't be targeted by hackers, who have been primarily interested in accessing sensitive data. But now that hackers are increasingly targeting industrial control systems, it's essential to ensure OT security is robust, he stresses.

In part one of a two-part interview (see audio player link below image), Novak discusses:

  • His view of the changing threat landscape;
  • OT security trends and challenges;
  • Why defenders are always playing catch up.

In part two of this interview, Novak addresses memory-resident malware and other top security concerns.

Novak is the co-founder and director of the investigative response unit for Verizon Enterprise Services. With more than 12 years of experience in the field, Novak has assisted corporations, government agencies and attorneys with computer forensics, fraud investigations and computer security incident response matters. He has been certified in various jurisdictions as an expert witness and has testified in both civil litigation and criminal prosecutions. Novak has been an adviser on dozens of high-profile cases around the globe.

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