OT has become a ticking security time bomb. The majority of OT environments use outdated protocols and systems that are vulnerable to attack and have insufficient security. Industrial settings that were previously designed to run in siloed networks are now connected to the internet, making them vulnerable to all the dangers that beset IT networks. Furthermore, many OT organizations depend on service providers and OEMs for remote operation and maintenance of integrated IT\/OT networks. Risk increases by enlarging the attack surface and creating an opportunity for access by malicious parties.\n\nAn integrated approach to security can help. Let\u2019s take a look at the current landscape and at the benefits of an integrated security platform. \n\nWhat\u2019s compounding the challenge of OT security\n\nThe fact that almost 80% of respondents to the 2023 State of Operational Technology and Cybersecurity Report said they have over 100 IP-enabled OT devices in their OT environment shows how difficult it is for security teams to keep up with the evolving threat landscape. According to the results, cybersecurity solutions continue to help most OT workers succeed (76%) by enhancing their flexibility (68%) and productivity (67%).\n\nBut according to the report's findings, solution sprawl also makes it more challenging to reliably implement, apply and enforce regulations across an increasingly converged IT\/OT architecture. The issue worsens with age; most firms (74%) report that the average age of their ICS systems is six to 10 years old.\n\nA consolidated approach is needed\n\nThe best-practice recommendation is to create an OT and vendor cybersecurity platform strategy. Consolidation simplifies processes and speeds up results. To enable enterprises to reliably incorporate and administer policies throughout an increasingly converged IT\/OT environment, the first step is to gradually create a platform by collaborating with vendors who engineer their products with an eye toward integration and automation.\n\nLook for vendors with a broad range of offerings so that they can offer both more fundamental solutions, like asset inventory and segmentation, and more sophisticated ones, like the capacity to support a joint OT\/IT SOC or an OT security operations center (SOC).\n\nHow an integrated platform can help\n\nTo provide OT-aware features to safeguard OT environments, a platform approach with open APIs and a strong, integratable technology alliance ecosystem allows CISOs and security teams to improve the effectiveness of ransomware prevention and detection, lessen complexity and accelerate incident triage, analysis and response.\n\nA modern platform approach will offer the following key features:\n\nAbility to enable automation \n\nModern OT organizations gain significant benefits from capabilities to allow security automation and orchestration across IT and OT settings, as well as features to lessen the alert deluge and its ensuing fatigue. \n\nGreater visibility \n\nA vast array of security threats can result from lack of visibility and real-time response. For smooth IT\/OT convergence and connectivity, OT solutions should be organically integrated across the organization's security fabric. This enhances visibility and real-time response throughout the full attack surface, enabling security operations center (SOC) teams to respond faster and more effectively to threats in vehicles, factories, plants and remote sites.\n\nSupport for interoperability\n\nOne recent report found that 88% of respondents feel solution interoperability is extremely or very important. To establish whether a product is a "rip and replace" or plug-and-play solution, you must look past features and function and consider interoperability and product consolidation. Building and troubleshooting for fixes for products that don't naturally operate together can soon take a considerable percentage of IT resources, all while the need for interoperability across isolated point solutions has become crucial. A dearth of qualified providers and of information available to choose a solution are two of the main obstacles, so this requires careful analysis before purchase.\n\nA call to unified action\n\nThe perilous state of OT security is apparent as outdated systems and expanding attack surfaces leave industrial environments exposed. The challenge is exacerbated by the proliferation of IP-enabled devices, leaving security teams struggling to keep up. Amid this landscape, an integrated security platform emerges as a crucial defense. As the 2023 State of Operational Technology and Cybersecurity Report highlights, a multitude of security solutions enhance flexibility and productivity but also lead to solution sprawl and difficulties in enforcing regulations. A unified approach \u2013 forged through collaboration with vendors \u2013 simplifies processes, aids compliance and streamlines security management. Open APIs, automation capabilities and interoperability become key tenets, ensuring comprehensive visibility, rapid incident response and strengthened protection across the evolving IT\/OT convergence.