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How MSSPs Help Companies Mitigate Operational Technology-Specific Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

By Dennis Hackney, Senior Technical Advisor, Industrial Cybersecurity

How MSSPs Help Companies Mitigae OT Specific Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently released risk considerations that government and private sector organizations (to include small and medium-sized businesses) outsourcing some level of IT support to Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can use to better mitigate against third-party risk.

CISA “focuses guidance to the three main organizational groups that play a role in reducing overall risk: (1) senior executives and boards of directors (strategic decision-making), (2) procurement professionals (operational decision-making), (3) network administrators, systems administrators, and front-line cybersecurity staff (tactical decision-making).”

What is an MSSP? 

The CISA framework refers to MSPs that offer IT services. However, many IT solutions cannot simply be transferred to the Operational Technology (OT) space. OT requires specialized tools and monitoring solutions. 

ABS Group’s Industrial Cybersecurity Managed Services is uniquely focused on OT cybersecurity making us a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP). In contrast to the CISA definition of MSP, MSSPs focus on mitigating cybersecurity vulnerabilities that could be out of scope for IT outsourcing if not considered in the service agreements with MSP providers.

 To make an informed decision about OT cybersecurity, consider what an MSSP can provide: 

OT-Specific Business: ABS Group typically works directly with operations personnel to support their operational cybersecurity needs. In many cases, ABS Group is assisting operations personnel to develop a business case for OT cybersecurity services in defense of IT services that are being pressed on them from the IT side of the organization. After all, there is a high potential for threats being introduced to OT networks born out of IT-OT convergence, or IT networks being connected to OT networks.

Cost-Benefit: ABS Group helps to provide both a cost-benefit analysis and a cybersecurity risk analysis in the design of the services offered to our clients, as well as the secure architecture approaches implemented in our OT monitoring services. Having an experienced, 24/7/365 OT cybersecurity team on staff could prove very costly to an individual business, small or mid-sized. In this sense, strategic outsourcing could provide the better solution over added internal headcount.

Managing Critical OT Assets: ABS Group has deep OT domain knowledge and expertise when it comes to critical infrastructure operations. We know how to quickly identify assets, vulnerabilities, and threats and prioritize health, safety, environmental and operational risks over IT-related information and data risks. OT risks include equipment damage, loss of life or even loss of species habitats. All of which can be more damaging to company reputation and the public than loss of data confidentiality for the private sector.

Master Service Agreements: ABS Group provides each client service agreements with full explanations detailing corporate responsibilities, accountabilities and expected behaviors during the execution of our services.

Service Level Agreements: ABS Group has developed standard response type service level agreements which are all agreed on between our clients and OT teams prior to engagement and contract execution. This means that our clients know what to expect when threats are detected in their OT environments and agree on performance metrics.

Standard Operating Procedures: ABS Group has internal and shared workflows as well as standard operating procedures for threat monitoring and cybersecurity incident response. These SOPs and workflows are aligned to each client to ensure roles and responsibilities are absolutely agreed upon prior to contract award. 


Remote Monitoring and Managed Services

It is crucial to have a strong cyber program that defends industrial operations against cyber-attacks and monitors critical assets at all times. ABS Group provides one of the only 24/7/365 Remote Monitoring and Managed Services specifically designed to protect OT Networks. We are OEM agnostic, OT-specialized and price competitive, with one solution that covers the entire digital ecosystem.

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