One way COVID-19 impacted businesses is by emphasizing the need for business continuity no matter where workers are located. This created challenges across industries, but especially in the operational technology (OT) space. Assets managed by industrial control centers were never architected with remote access in mind so for years, administrators have had to implement and maintain cumbersome, costly, and complex infrastructures. These "solutions" usually consist of multiple tools that demand different ports and protocols.
Remote access administrators, both on the information technology (IT) and OT side, are constantly trying to balance convenience for employees and vendors, and security for their organization.
Historically, managing remote access meant making compromises. Either organizations choose a simple option but are left with little to no security metrics. Or, organizations choose a more security-conscious approach, but implementation and usability becomes very complex. Plus, these solutions were created with an IT network in mind-- not industrial environments.
For example, best practices recommend network segmentation between IT and OT networks with a DMZ. This means an OT engineer or contractor will need to traverse a long maze of firewalls, VPN, authentication, more firewalls, jump servers, and more authentication to finally reach an asset and start repair work.
Administrative complexity affects far more than just the OT or IT department. For instance, consider the following impacts:
There are unique considerations for remote access for OT environments, including the following requirements:
OT assets regularly need to be accessed by internal users and third-party vendors.
Access needs to be quick and reliable. (In an emergency, there is no time for multiple levels of authentication, VPNs, jump servers, etc.)
Administrators need to know (and control) who is logging in from where, for what purpose, and know whether that purpose is legitimate.
Claroty Secure Remote Access (SRA), part of The Claroty Platform, was purpose-built to meet specific operational, administrative, and security needs of industrial networks. SRA minimizes the cost and complexity of administering safe, secure, and reliable OT remote access for internal and third party users.
Claroty has made many enhancements to SRA over the course of this year, which build on our vision to provide organizations frictionless secure access to their critical industrial assets with less administrative complexity—no matter where users, facilities, or assets are located. A few highlights of 2021 releases include the following:
Current SRA administrators can take advantage of these benefits today. Choosing a solution designed to decrease complexity of managing remote access also reduce the total cost of ownership, so administrators can focus on more pressing priorities.