Is Vulnerability Management on Your Roadmap?
Keeping systems up to date with the latest software releases can reduce the risk of malware outbreaks as well as reduce the ability for attackers to ransom vulnerable systems. A vulnerability management program can be labor intensive and may not be suitable for all asset types, but it is high on the list of any security standard you may be adhering to.
Medium/Large Enterprises with
skilled OT staff
- Improved Security: Patching/vulnerability management programs can help address vulnerabilities in OT systems and devices, reducing the risk of cyber-attacks and unauthorized access. By regularly applying patches and updates, organizations can keep their OT environments secure and protect critical assets and processes from potential threats.
- Reduced Risk of Exploitation: OT systems are often subject to known vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals. Implementing a patching/vulnerability management program can help identify and remediate these vulnerabilities in a timely manner, reducing the risk of exploitation and potential operational disruptions.
- Compliance: Many industries have regulatory requirements that mandate the implementation of patching/vulnerability management programs for OT networks. By adhering to these requirements, organizations can achieve compliance and avoid potential fines or penalties.
- Increased Operational Continuity: Regular patching/vulnerability management can help ensure the stability and reliability of OT systems and devices. By addressing vulnerabilities and applying updates in a controlled manner, organizations can reduce the risk of downtime or disruptions to critical operations, leading to improved operational continuity.
- Better Asset Management: Patching/vulnerability management programs typically include an inventory of OT assets and their associated vulnerabilities. This can help organizations gain better visibility into their OT environment, including asset identification, configuration management, and tracking of vulnerabilities, which can facilitate effective asset management practices.
- Operational Disruptions: Applying patches and updates to OT systems and devices can sometimes result in operational disruptions, particularly if proper testing and validation processes are not followed. Patching may require system shut down, which could impact critical processes and result in production interruptions or downtime.
- Compatibility Issues: OT systems and devices may have unique configurations, dependencies, and interoperability requirements. Applying patches and updates without proper consideration of these factors could result in compatibility issues, leading to system instability or loss of functionality.
- Testing and Validation Requirements: Proper testing and validation of patches and updates in OT environments can be challenging due to the complexity of these systems and the need for thorough testing to ensure that the patch or update does not introduce new issues or impact system performance.
- Vendor Support and Availability: OT systems and devices are often provided by different vendors, and their patching and update schedules may not align or be readily available. Organizations may face challenges in obtaining timely patches or updates from vendors, which could impact the effectiveness of their patching/ vulnerability management program.
- Risk of Human Error: Patching/vulnerability management programs require careful planning, coordination, and execution to minimize the risk of human error. Mistakes in patching or updating processes could result in unintended consequences, such as system failures, data loss, or further vulnerabilities being introduced.
- Resource Requirements: Implementing and maintaining a robust patching/vulnerability management program for OT networks requires dedicated resources, including personnel, time, and tools. Organizations need to invest in appropriate resources and expertise to effectively manage patching/vulnerability management for their OT environments.
- Disruption of Legacy Systems: OT environments often include legacy systems that may not be compatible with the latest patches or updates. Patching such legacy systems may require additional cost, effort, testing, and validation, and could disrupt established workflows or processes.
While implementing a patching/vulnerability management program for OT networks can provide significant security benefits, it also comes with potential challenges, including operational disruptions, especially with older systems, significant testing required, and vendor support. It is important to carefully plan, execute, and monitor such programs in
OT environments, while considering the unique characteristics and requirements of these systems to minimize risks.
Want to learn more? Check out our OT Defense in Depth Cyber Security Buyer’s Guide.