Operational technology (OT) refers to the technology and systems used to operate and control physical devices, processes, and events in an organization. It typically includes hardware and software that is used to monitor, control, and manage industrial or manufacturing processes, as well as infrastructure and utilities such as electricity, water, and transportation.
OT is distinct from information technology (IT), which refers to the technology and systems used to process, store, and transmit information. While OT systems often rely on IT systems for data processing and communication, they are designed and used for different purposes and are often managed by different teams or departments within an organization.
Examples of operational technology include:
Industrial control systems (ICS), which are used to control and automate industrial processes in sectors such as manufacturing, oil and gas, and electricity generation.
Building management systems (BMS), which are used to control and monitor the systems and equipment in buildings, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting, and security.
Transportation systems, such as traffic control systems, rail and subway systems, and aviation systems.
Smart grid systems, which are used to monitor and control the flow of electricity in a power grid.
Operational technology plays a critical role in the operation and maintenance of many industries and infrastructure systems, and its security is of critical importance. Cyber attacks on OT systems can have serious consequences, including physical damage to equipment and disruption of critical processes.