Industrial cybersecurity not only pays for itself through cost savings and avoided breaches — it also improves operational resiliency at a time of increased cyberattack activity.
As organizations tighten their belts amid the ongoing pandemic response, there is renewed urgency in measuring the value of every dollar invested. This includes heightened scrutiny around return on investment (ROI), a factor that can often delay the actual purchase of a product even after the technical winner has been identified. In the current operating environment, leadership teams must answer the ROI question even for solutions that might seem essential – like industrial cybersecurity.
For critical infrastructure and manufacturing organizations, the cyber threat looms larger every year. The operational technology (OT) underlying modern plants and factories is no longer “air-gapped.” As IT and OT networks converge, organizations must expand their security posture from traditional IT security to include solutions purpose-built for OT environments.
But, the ROI of industrial cybersecurity extends far beyond its role as a necessary line of defense. By assembling greater insights into and control over your OT infrastructure, organizations can realize improved operational efficiencies without introducing new attack vectors. Here are some specific considerations to keep in mind when building a case for your next OT security investment:
Cybersecurity pennies prevent multimillion-dollar breaches
There is no question that purchasing an OT security solution involves a capital outlay. Nevertheless, this sticker price is a fraction of the cost that a breach can incur without proper industrial safeguards in place. One day of unplanned downtime can cost upwards of $10 million for factory operators. And this doesn’t even include the costs associated with shaken shareholder confidence and long-term damage to the brand.
Integrations unlock greater value from existing IT investments
Any worthwhile OT security solution should integrate with the IT security tools already deployed across your enterprise environment. This is critical to achieving a unified security layer that spans both IT and OT operations. Robust integration capabilities also increase the value of your previous security investments, by adding industrial visibility to next-generation firewalls (NGFWs), security information and event management (SIEM) solutions and unidirectional gateways.
Rich asset knowledge reduces the cost of ongoing maintenance
A key function of industrial cybersecurity is the ability to see the entirety of your OT environment, including deep situational awareness of every asset down to the ladder logic. By gathering intimate knowledge of every asset’s cyber health, you can monitor and proactively schedule key maintenance, and reduce the frequency of “run to failure” scenarios. Most importantly, you’ll expedite your ability to identify and resolve misconfigured or malfunctioning devices, which means faster recoveries from unplanned downtime.
Controlling your industrial cyber risk may lower insurance premiums
Organizations are increasingly buying insurance policies with cybersecurity riders. But, before these riders are granted, insurance companies must perform a risk assessment, a test that is getting harder to pass with heightened security concerns around remote work and scaled-down workforces. Deploying a comprehensive OT security solution shows that your organization is compliant with cyber hygiene best practices, which can translate to a lower risk score and more favorable insurance terms. The cost savings from a favorable assessment recur every year while also reducing your organization’s cyber exposure gap.
Slowdown periods are a perfect time to upgrade your OT security
In response to current public health precautions, many organizations are experiencing a reduced production schedule. The fact that skeleton crews are helming critical OT operations only exacerbates the probability of a successful attack or accidental security incident, as cybercriminals pounce on the disruption to launch new malware and phishing attacks.
This slowdown period presents an opportune window for industrial organizations to upgrade their OT security. Not only will this move protect against heightened cyberthreats – it also avoids the prospect of necessary downtime in the future when implementing a new solution would require taking down an operation in full production mode.
There’s no question that industrial cybersecurity ensures the long-term viability of critical infrastructure and manufacturing facilities, which require flawless operation and maximum uptime. Taking into account the five ROI considerations outlined above, it’s easy to see that procuring, deploying and operating an OT security solution ultimately saves the organization from dangerous exposure and astronomical costs related to a breach.
The initial investment today quickly pays for itself, and allows industrial organizations to embrace digital transformation with confidence.