Paradigmatic shifts are often not fully recognized until after they have occurred. Innovations are made, evolutions take place, and then someone realizes, “Hey, this is much different from when it started.” That’s when people start to re-think context and terminologies reflective of the new reality.

Cyber-Physical Systems: A Brief History

That scenario is playing out in the realm of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its permutations like the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Internet of X Things (IoXT) that covers consumer, military, automotive, and other applications of connected technologies, and operational technology (OT). It’s a trend that began back in the 1980s when system-on-chip technology started getting designed into office printers, then adapted to use for industrial equipment, allowing users to manage and monitor machines and office appliances via the organization’s local area network (LAN). When the LAN gave way to public networks, the term “Internet of Things” was coined by MIT’s Kevin Ashton during a proposal to Procter & Gamble in which he suggested using RFID tags to track products moving through the supply chain.

Fast-forward to 2006 when, according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, the term cyber-physical systems was introduced to describe the interplay of digital and analog infrastructure in which “embedded computers monitor and control physical processes, usually with feedback loops, where physical processes affect computations and vice versa.”

Gartner has since adopted the term cyber-physical systems (CPS) to describe the full scope of connected technologies that once seemed arcane but are now not only common, but integral to the digital operations and infrastructure of nearly every enterprise. CPS are therefore the next-generation of integrated physical and cyber systems, and can include IoT, OT, and IoMT assets such as critical infrastructure sensors, surveillance cameras, building management systems, and healthcare devices with embedded systems that interact with the real world as well as with complex software elements. And because of the essential role CPS now plays, the devices comprising CPS assets have introduced new, critical risks to the organizations that have adopted them as a part of their digital transformations.

Managing Risks With Cyber-Physical Systems

That means new challenges for the IT security teams responsible for keeping networks, data, and people safe. In a recent report, Innovation Insight for Cyber-Physical Systems Protection Platforms, Gartner wrote:

“As organizations connect operational or mission-critical systems, or deploy automation and digital transformation technology, they create cyber-physical systems that security and risk management leaders must securely manage. Enter CPS protection platforms — new solutions for a new security reality.”

A cyber-physical systems protection platform is a security solution that automates cyber-physical systems asset discovery, and adds a range of security-related features to improve the risk posture of CPS. Gartner believes that by 2025, “70% of companies will deploy cyber-physical systems protection platforms as the first step in their asset-centric security journey.” As described in the Gartner graphic below, when organizations embrace digital transformation and IT/OT convergence, they will need to move towards an asset-centric view of security.

The Gartner report outlines findings, challenges, and recommendations for organizations confronting their CPS security realities for the first time, describes the risks that unprepared and ill-equipped enterprises face, and requirements for CyberPhysical Protection platforms.

Ordr Addresses Visibility and Security of Cyber-Physical Systems

Fortunately, Ordr offers a CPS protection platform that addresses these risks and makes it easy for organizations to see, know, and secure the devices that have been accruing to their enterprise inventories over the years (as well as those ones they didn’t know were connecting and operating on their infrastructure) — including IT, IoT, and OT. In fact, Ordr is named by Gartner as one of the leading CPS protection platform innovators, focused on addressing the unique, asset-centric approach required to protect connected devices and their infrastructures.

Ordr was engineered for the CPS environment, and delivers many security benefits specific to protecting cyber-physical systems, including:

  • Automated asset discovery and classification to gain an accurate view of your CPS attack surface.
  • Identification of vulnerable devices, malicious communications, and active threats to uncover previously unknown risks.
  • Prioritized remediation and mitigation efforts with risk scores calculated for every asset.
  • Accelerated incident response with dynamically created policy to stop malicious communications and protect devices.
  • Improved security with automated policy for NAC and Zero Trust segmentation.

Download a copy of Gartner’s Market Guide for Cyber-Physical Systems Protection Platform with our compliments, simply follow the link. Or to learn more about the Ordr platform and how we can help you protect your CPS assets, get in touch with us directly.

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