Driving OT Cybersecurity Investments: Perspectives from the Former US Secretary of Defense

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Driving OT Cybersecurity Investments: Perspectives from the Former US Secretary of Defense

At the recent S4x24 cybersecurity conference Lucian Niemeyer, a distinguished former Assistant Secretary of Defense and current CEO of Building Cyber Security, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing cybersecurity, shared valuable insights into the evolving landscape of operational technology (OT) security and its critical importance in safeguarding our societal infrastructure.

Evolving Perspectives on Cyber Safety and Security

Lucian Niemeyer highlights in this interview an essential shift in understanding OT within critical infrastructures, particularly noting the increased threats from nation-states to essential systems like maritime ports and water systems. This evolving understanding recognizes the dual role of connected operational technologies in both offering societal benefits and introducing vulnerabilities that necessitate deliberate cyber safety measures. This approach extends beyond traditional cybersecurity, aiming to ensure that essential services remain safe and uninterrupted.

Prioritizing Investment in Cybersecurity

The discussion reveals a movement towards emphasizing cyber safety over mere security, prompted by the realization that cyberattacks on OT could directly endanger human lives. This realization is reshaping investment priorities, making cybersecurity measures a mandatory requirement to ensure the safety of individuals in our increasingly interconnected and technologically reliant environments.

Setting Minimum Engineering Standards

In his nonprofit work, particularly concerning commercial real estate and water systems, Lucian Niemeyer focuses on establishing minimum engineering standards for the safe operation of cyber-physical systems. This strategy is gaining momentum, highlighting the necessity for strong engineering solutions that prioritize human safety in the design and ongoing maintenance of OT and IIoT systems.

Anticipating Regulations on Software Build Materials (SBOM)

A significant topic of discussion is the imminent European regulation mandating SBOM for cybersecurity, a development Niemeyer anticipates will be mirrored in the U.S. He argues for the importance of understanding software’s performance factors and maintaining high standards over time. This holistic view advocates for comprehensive lifecycle management of software, encompassing both the acquisition phase and maintenance to ensure enduring performance and safety standards.

IIoT World Smart Buildings Day

Looking ahead, Lucian Niemeyer expressed eagerness to contribute to the upcoming IIoT World Smart Buildings Day in July, underscoring the significance of conferences like these in fostering dialogue and collaboration within the cybersecurity community. His commitment to leveraging his expertise for societal benefit mirrors the broader industry’s move towards a more integrated and safety-focused approach to cybersecurity in OT and IIoT environments.

The interview was recorded by Lucian Fogoros from IIoT World. This summary was created based on the video transcript with the assistance of https://chat.openai.com. It was edited by the IIoT World team.