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Where Bits & Bolts Converge

Written By: Jonas Georgsson, Chris Sunstrom, and Nicole Mendolera


Navigating the cybersecurity landscape in the oil and gas industry's digital transformation journey


The transformative journey of IT/OT convergence in oil and gas is underway, challenging us to rethink cybersecurity from the ground up.  This shift has heightened cybersecurity's role within operational technology environments, fundamentally transforming the approach to its integration and emphasizing its criticality in safeguarding operations.

 

This IT/OT convergence ushers in unparalleled efficiencies and innovations, but it also introduces complex cybersecurity challenges that demand a fundamental reevaluation of security strategies.  As these two worlds collide, the necessity for a robust cybersecurity framework becomes clear—not as an option but as a crucial pillar for safeguarding critical infrastructure. Emphasizing creating a cyber-aware culture across all operational domains is essential for navigating this new terrain successfully.


Transforming With Technology

In the oil and gas sector, the once-clear boundaries between Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) have blurred. Historically, OT systems operated in isolation and were deemed safer and more reliable as a result. However, the industry has witnessed a paradigm shift with the IT/OT Convergence, driven by the allure of advanced digital infrastructures. This integration is pivotal for digital transformation, harnessing vast data from IIoT devices to leverage cloud solutions and artificial intelligence for improved efficiency, predictive maintenance, and enhanced decision-making capabilities.  The integration of IT with industrial OT is not merely a trend but a transformative force redefining operational landscapes.


The IT/OT Convergence Challenge

With the benefits of IT/OT convergence and digitalization comes increased exposure to cyber attacks that threaten critical infrastructure and worker safety.  Creating a unified cyber-aware culture that encompasses OT is a challenging endeavor.  IT and OT are typically siloed organizations, with IT carrying the primary responsibility for Cybersecurity despite a lack of OT expertise.  The personnel managing OT systems are primarily engineers specialized in production processes and not necessarily technology and applications.  Additionally, OT specialists may be skeptical of implementing new cyber tools and equipment due to the potential for system disruption.


A Strategic Solution for Cybersecurity Integration

Transitioning to a cybersecurity-centric operational model in the oil and gas sector isn't just about deploying new technologies; it's about cultivating an environment where safety and efficiency coexist seamlessly. The key lies in a tailored Organizational Change Management (OCM) strategy that not only educates but also aligns the distinct elements of OT with overarching cybersecurity objectives.

 

Oil and Gas companies increasingly seek OCM strategies to bridge the gap between their enterprise cyber strategy and operating assets. OCM specialists who understand OT environments can effectively communicate with engineers and operators to address Cyber vulnerabilities and potential mitigations. They work to build trust and shape the security culture by fostering open communication between OT and IT. 

 

Building the OT cybersecurity strategy and mindset takes time, but with an effective OCM approach, companies can allow the availability that is essential for the field operators combined with the data integrity and privacy of the corporate IT approach.  By adopting this comprehensive OCM strategy, companies not only fortify their defenses but also ensure that the transition to a cyber-aware culture is smooth and sustainable. This methodical approach guarantees that the revolutionary benefits of IT/OT convergence are realized without compromising on security, paving the way for a future where operational integrity and cybersecurity go hand in hand.


How We Can Help

Activera in partnership with Mendo Cybersecurity has created a solution that jointly merges cybersecurity and OT expertise with organization change management leaving our clients better protected while making the process as seamless as possible.

 

Embarking on this journey alone isn't necessary. Our team is equipped to guide you through every step, from initial assessments to full-scale cybersecurity integrations that respect the unique demands of the oil & gas sector.  Reach out to set up a free 30-minute consultation.


Definitions

  • Operational Technology (OT): This encompasses the hardware and software that detects or causes a change, through the direct monitoring and/or control of industrial equipment, assets, processes and events.

  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): IIoT refers to the extension and use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in industrial sectors and applications. It involves the use of smart sensors and actuators to enhance manufacturing and industrial processes, enabling better control, efficiency, and reliability through data analytics and machine-to-machine communication.

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