perational Technology (OT) networks are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks as a result of ‘blind spots’ brought on by digital

transformation and IIoT – a new report has warned. The report, published by Yokogawa UK and titled Industrial Cyber Threats:

Processes & Protection for Industrial Control Systems, highlights the vulnerability of OT networks in critical infrastructure and industrial applications, such as utilities and petrochemical plants, energy generation, automated manufacturing, pharmaceutical production, and water networks. Donal Bourke, manager of New Business & Advanced Solutions at

Yokogawa UK & Ireland, says digital transformation and IIoT, while having enormous benefits, if not appropriately designed and managed can simultaneously create an acute danger. “Digitalisation and the adoption of new technologies that facilitate interoperability, information flow and data insight, can create an OT ‘blind spot’ that can be exploited by state-sponsored action or by highly sophisticated lone- wolf hackers. They are increasingly targeting critical infrastructure with attacks that have the potential to disrupt the normal functioning of a society, such as power generation.” Unlike cyber-attacks on IT systems, attacks on OT networks are of

significantly higher concern and can have much graver implications. Bourke continues: “At one time, industrial environments were

considered immune to cyber-attack due to employing techniques such as air-gapping which is the physical isolation of networks. This is no longer the case as digitalisation, which has facilitated the convergence of IT and OT has created a larger threat attack surface for bad actors to gain access to a facility’s integrated control and safety systems. Today’s hackers recognise the vulnerabilities of OT systems and are actively looking for ways to compromise them.” The report highlights the fact that OT security is in its infancy

compared to IT security, despite the magnified risk, and urges government and industry to take a holistic approach. Bourke adds: “There is no technology magic bullet that will mitigate

the cyber security risk of increasing IT and OT convergence, the threat to control systems and human fallibility. The solution lies in taking a more holistic approach that involves awareness training, risk assessments, the development of OT appropriate policies and procedures, and architecting a system which provides an organisation with a comprehensive Cyber Security Management System.” Bourke concludes: “Keeping one step ahead of hackers is difficult, not

least because cyber threats are continually evolving. Regulation, rightly, looks to maintain the pace but has also made OT cyber security a daunting challenge for most organisations. This report simplifies that problem, bringing together all the information necessary to develop an effective OT Cyber Security Management System. “No system is impregnable, and vulnerabilities will continue to be

discovered across the OT domain. Even with generous investment, no plant can completely eliminate its risk exposure. It stands to reason that a holistic approach to cyber-security is the only way to keep pace with the latest generations of malware tailored to industrial control systems.”

Yokogawa UK & Ireland


ABB has launched SafetyInsight to help customers operating high hazard processes to reduce production losses, lower maintenance costs, and optimise safety


BB has launched ABB Ability SafetyInsight; a suite of digital software applications

that support companies across the energy and process sectors throughout the entire lifecycle of process safety management (PSM). Operating as a central source of information

the software digitalises early Engineering Technology (ET) data to create a process safety digital twin, using this data to then give context to the vast amount of data generated through information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) systems. Karl Watson, global digital sales solution

architect for process safety, ABB Energy Industries, says: “Companies operating in high hazard industries invest significant time and effort developing the basis of safety during the engineering phase of a facility. This critical knowledge is then often left ‘on-the-shelf’, leaving operation and maintenance teams to ‘re-invent the wheel’ when it comes to


understanding the hazards and risks associated with their processes.” Taking this unique approach of combing

IT and OT data with ET data, SafetyInsight enables valuable engineering data (such as HAZOP and LOPA reports) to be digitalised, and readily accessible by operation and maintenance teams in simplified, intuitive, and easy to understand visual formats. Ongoing risk assessments can then be based on

digitalised safety data. The addition of the IT/OT data provides near real time updates, enabling the accumulative impact of operation and maintenance activities to be visualized on a dynamic risk matrix, to further aid risk assessments and management of operational risk. Watson continues: “Engineering Technology

data, like any digital twin, must be validated. SafetyInsight facilitates this by capturing actual operation and maintenance data in context with the early design assumptions, enabling

improvement to be identified and implemented, in other words, ‘closing the loop.’ In addition to increased safety, these improvements can help minimise production downtime and reduce maintenance costs.” The suite delivers process safety dashboards to

provide the right information, to the right person, at the right time, to make the right, informed, decision. Watson concluded: “ABB SafetyInsight along

with other ABB Information Management Systems (IMS) applications have a strong track record for helping large energy companies achieve higher uptime for their assets – with one company reaching over 99 per cent. The software suite also supported another global energy company in reducing the annual testing of safety system valves by as much as 30 per cent.”


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