Podcast: Episode #23 - Danielle Jablanski: Navigating the Multitude of OT Technologies Considering Interoperability, Reliability, and Centralization

June 8, 2023

On a recent PrOTect OT podcast, we spoke with Danielle Jablanski, a prominent OT cybersecurity strategist at Nozomi Networks. Beyond her position at Nozomi, Danielle is a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council's Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and holds a key role at the nonprofit, Building Cyber Security. Her diverse experience includes consulting for the US government and contributing to the Stanford Cyber Policy Center.

Initially from an academic background, Danielle made her transition to the OT sector, driven by a desire to effect immediate change as she saw that cybersecurity was often sidelined in this space.

Addressing Cybersecurity Misconceptions

Danielle touched on the misjudgments surrounding cybersecurity, particularly in OT. From reputational risks to defense strategies, misconceptions abound. Surprisingly, she noted that even significant breaches haven’t always resulted in severe reputational or financial damage to companies, contradicting popular belief. In the ICS landscape, Danielle often finds herself clarifying risks that have persisted since the late '90s. It's not just about technical solutions; reshaping perspectives is equally crucial.

Challenges in Market Evolution and Cybersecurity

The OT market is in a state of flux, and with economic constraints, budget re-evaluations are commonplace. While it's straightforward to categorize cybersecurity solutions for smart cities, the same isn't true for OT. Danielle's recent article highlighted the challenge of rigidly classifying OT products in traditional IT buckets.

The Challenge of Ongoing Maintenance of OT Assets

Human errors, like a misconfigured firewall, can introduce vulnerabilities even with robust security systems. Danielle underscores the need for a balance between preventative and reactive security. With talent shortages in cybersecurity and the potential for asymmetrical warfare, she emphasizes the importance of a broader perspective on cyber threats.

Interoperability, Reliability, and Centralization

Security is as much about operations and safety as it is about data protection. Danielle categorizes challenges into:

  1. Interoperability
  2. Reliability
  3. Centralization

To navigate these, she proposes three solutions: Transparency, Accuracy, and Precision. An integrated approach to cybersecurity is essential, considering both IT and OT perspectives.

It's crucial to incorporate operational perspectives when discussing cybersecurity. She noted that a recent Harvard Business Review article that focused on cybersecurity but excluded OT considerations, OT often feels left out of broader security conversations. There's a pressing need to integrate OT insights and adapt frameworks from IT for a more holistic approach to ensure the safety and efficiency of operations.

The Need for a Trusted Advisor in OT Security

Investing in top-tier cybersecurity products doesn’t guarantee safety. How they're employed is as important as their quality. Danielle cautions against the rush to purchase and the resulting cyclical nature of cybersecurity purchases. Instead, she emphasizes the need for organizations to become their own trusted advisors, informed by comprehensive literature reviews and insights from OT analysts.

She further highlights that significant investments in security tools might unearth larger security issues without leftover budget for resolutions. For organizations, strategizing their cybersecurity budget becomes paramount, considering factors such as NIST CSF categories and potential risks.

For large global corporations, while detection tools might be a priority, they come with their own set of challenges, particularly the overwhelming amount of data and the need for further actionable steps.

For more in-depth insights from Danielle Jablanski, tune in to the full podcast episode here.