Over the weekend, the Alpharetta, GA based Colonial Pipeline was hit by an extensive ransomware attack that shut down its information technology (IT) and industrial operational technology (OT) systems. Simply put, an all-too-common ransomware event targeting IT systems encouraged a voluntary shutdown on the production side (OT) of the business to prevent further exposure. Colonial Pipeline is responsible for 45% of the gasoline, diesel fuel and natural gas transported from Texas to New Jersey. A shutdown of this magnitude has the potential to net economic impact and reiterates the need to safeguard our critical industrial systems.
In today’s global quest for more data, incremental efficiency gains and desire to apply artificial intelligence (AI), numerous industries are connecting their OT systems to both the internet and other IT systems. For Colonial, the incident appears to be isolated to IT functions, but the nature of a converged environment presents implications for operations. Here are a few solutions to consider that can mitigate cyber risk (IT) and production risk (OT):