Last year we had the pleasure of having Dale Peterson, ICS security specialist, close out our first annual Operational Technology (OT) cybersecurity summit, Operation: Next. He captivated the audience with his thought-provoking presentation on the future of OT cybersecurity and the importance of reducing the security burden on those who interact with ICS/OT systems.

Peterson brought to light that our heavy reliance on employees to ensure security program effectiveness ultimately puts organizations at risk. He proposed that rather than trying to get operators, engineers, technicians, etc. to participate more in OT cybersecurity, companies should find ways to remove them from being the source of a program’s success. His poignant analogy said it best: we should find ways to make security programs less like seat belts (they only prove effective if you use them) and more like airbags (they are always on ready to deploy with no human intervention).

He also discussed the ineffectiveness of measuring security program success based on activities rather than on actual risk reduction. As an example, Peterson highlighted patching. A security team can spend considerable effort applying the hundreds, even thousands of asset-owner patch combinations. However, if the activity never moves the needle to reduce risk, what is the point.

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OT and ICS security—The art of the possible

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Watch the full session here >
In both of Peterson’s “call to action” suggestions, he references the importance of automation – a critical need in the overly manual ICS/OT world.

I’m certain his presentation was a catalyst for improvements for many organizations who attended our Operation: Next:22 summit. Guiding change is one of the objectives of our event, which brings together clients, industry luminaries and Accenture thought leaders to discuss trending topics and pressing challenges unique to cyber securing OT networks.

This year’s summit, on March 23, will be no different. With tracks designed for executives and technologist, both audiences will come away with practical, real-world solutions and “next step” advice on how to secure operations and build resiliency within critical infrastructure organizations.

Some noteworthy topics at this year’s event include:

    • Tackling the hiring challenge – How do you find and retain top security talent?
    • Navigating the booming vendor landscape – With thousands of new security technologies available, where should you invest your money and confidence?
    • Centralized but blind—What’s now, what’s next? – How can innovation play a role in bridging the gap from centralized to operationalized?
    • Why security metrics matter – How do leading organizations measure cyber resilience, and communicate those metrics to stakeholders to drive improvements?
    • Resiliency—what does good look like? – What does it take to mature your defense and resiliency posture?
    • Architecture’s impact on risk and safety – How to ensure your security architecture addresses third-party vendors risk.

I invite you to join us on March 23. I think you will find it to be one of the most powerful and influential events you attend this year.

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Jim Guinn

Senior Managing Director – Industry, Strategy & Consulting Lead, Accenture Security

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