Zero Trust OT Security for Zero Operational Downtime

Feb 26, 2023
5 minutes

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As the Senior Vice President of Network Security at Palo Alto Networks, I get to talk to hundreds of customers every year about their cybersecurity challenges. One of the most interesting trends I’ve seen over the past few years is how different industries develop different cyber security needs as their digital transformations accelerate. One set of verticals that has a unique set of needs and a unique impact on the world is the OT industries that comprise a large part of our critical infrastructure.

When I talk to these customers in verticals, like manufacturing, electric utilities and logistics, they tell me that they need the type of best-in-class security that Palo Alto Networks provides. But, that’s not where the conversation ends. These companies put maximum emphasis on achieving zero operational downtime in parallel with great security. When their operations go down, so does their bottom line. More than that, when their operations go down, it can have a meaningful impact on the safety of workers, customers and the general population.

Introducing Zero Trust OT Security and Industrial OT Security

Today, I’m excited to share that Palo Alto Networks has released a new solution designed for the unique needs of these asset intensive industries. Zero Trust OT Security is built to provide comprehensive visibility and security for OT assets and networks, 5G connected assets and remote operations. We shared our new solution with the experts at the Enterprise Strategy Group and they provided their feedback:

“As industrial OT systems and IT systems become more interconnected, so does the size of the attack surface available to the adversary. Defending against increasingly sophisticated threats requires expanded security strategies that can provide visibility, granular context and Zero Trust capabilities across both OT and IT networks, devices, applications and users. The Palo Alto Networks solution embraces this unified security model, promising to help protect complex OT environments.” – Dave Gruber, Principal Analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

Why is our solution based on Zero Trust? I wrote in depth about why Zero Trust is critical for critical infrastructure a couple of weeks ago. Let me highlight one point I made there:

“Zero Trust isn’t only about users: the same principles apply to cloud workloads and infrastructure components like OT devices or network nodes. There is still a need to authenticate devices and access to authorize what the device is trying to do and provide control, and that’s what the Zero Trust Model can provide.”

We are proud of the Zero Trust capabilities we deliver at Palo Alto Networks and are pleased to bring them even further into OT environments.

As part of our Zero Trust OT Security solution, I’m also excited to introduce a new security service – Industrial OT Security. Industrial OT Security provides ML-powered comprehensive visibility, security policy recommendations, best-in-class threat protection, and Zero Trust enforcement to secure your OT assets. It combines machine learning (ML) with crowdsourced telemetry to recognize hundreds of unique asset profiles, OT-specific threat signatures and over 1,000 OT/ICS/SCADA applications. A recent study by the Enterprise Security Group showed that Industrial OT Security can provide a return on investment (ROI) of 351% with up to 95% lower complexity than alternative products, while also reducing risk.

Built for Comprehensive Security

We have designed Zero Trust OT Security to enable both best-in-class security and superb operational up-time by focusing on three pillars:

  1. Start with Comprehensive Visibility: As they say, you can’t secure what you can’t see. And, OT assets are among the hardest devices to discover. The Palo Alto Networks Zero Trust OT Security solution starts with our already best-in-class visibility and adds deep and broad OT device coverage with our new Industrial OT Security offering. With Zero Trust OT Security, you can see everything, and that’s the foundation.
  2. Cover Every Environment with Zero Trust: Customers tell me they struggle trying to cover the wide variety of environments they run into. They have OT and IT devices converging on their networks. They have employees, partners and vendors remote-accessing their facilities. And, they have increasingly complex architectures with new technologies, like 5G networks expanding everywhere. Zero Trust OT Security makes it easy to secure each of these environments with the industry’s best Zero Trust security. From least privilege access control, to continuous trust verification and security inspection, Zero Trust OT Security has you covered, everywhere.
  3. Make It Simple to Operate: Perhaps my favorite customers to talk to are the ones who have cobbled together siloed solutions, who try to chip away at their visibility challenges, and who plug security holes in every unique environment they have. These customers tell me that the complexity of multiple solutions is leaving security gaps, breaking their teams and breaking their bank. They need something that is consistent, easy to use and affordable in this increasingly volatile economy. Zero Trust OT security is designed to provide consistent security from a single trusted partner, freeing you and your teams to spend time on security, not on setup and silos.

By sticking to these three principles our solution delivers exactly what OT leaders need – Zero Trust security that keeps operations up 24/7, not CISOs.

More on Zero Trust and Industrial OT Security

Visit our solutions page for more resources and case studies on Zero Trust OT Security.

Learn more about how Industrial OT Security helps customers achieve a return on investment (ROI) of 351% with up to 95% lower complexity than alternative OT security solutions.

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