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Part 1: Energy Sector Insights: 7 Key Indicators in Choosing the Right OT Cybersecurity Service Provider + 9 Questions to Ask

By Jacob Marzloff, Armexa Co-Founder, President and CEO
May 8, 2024

The energy sector relies heavily on operational technology (OT) to efficiently manage operations, but this increased reliance on technology comes with a heightened risk of cyber threats.

To protect critical infrastructure and ensure the safety and reliability of energy operations, it’s crucial for energy companies to partner with a trusted OT security service provider.

This first part of our two-part series will explore the initial four key factors that energy companies should consider when making this choice.

#1 Industry Experience

True industry experience in OT security goes beyond basic knowledge – it encompasses a deep understanding of the specific challenges that energy companies face.

An OT security service provider with industry experience brings several advantages to the table:

Field Experience

Energy operations involve the continuous and complex movement of resources like oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids and refined products. A provider with field experience will have a deep understanding of these operational processes, including flow control, pressure regulation and product handling. This knowledge enables them to tailor security solutions that don’t disrupt critical operations.

These facilities often have a mix of legacy and modern systems. Field-experienced providers understand the complexities of integrating security solutions into these diverse environments, minimizing disruption and ensuring compatibility with existing technology.

When you’re looking for an OT security provider, a great question to ask is “has the team that would be working with us ever set foot in a plant?”

Regulatory Compliance

The energy sector is subject to strict regulations and compliance requirements. Providers with industry experience are well-versed in these regulations, ensuring that their clients remain compliant and avoid potential fines or legal issues.

Customized Solutions

Energy facilities vary widely in terms of size, complexity and technology.
Experienced OT security providers will understand the unique intricacies of energy operations. For example, they may understand the critical importance of maintaining the integrity of pipelines and storage facilities for oil and gas transportation. This knowledge allows them to develop security solutions that are specifically designed to address these challenges, ensuring the safe and efficient flow of resources.

#2 Expertise in OT Security

Expertise in OT security isn’t just about having a basic understanding of cybersecurity principles; it’s about having specialized knowledge in securing the unique and complex systems that make up the OT environment. Here’s why this expertise is crucial:

SCADA Systems

SCADA systems are the nerve center of many energy operations. An expert in OT security understands the intricacies of SCADA systems, including the specialized protocols and communication methods they rely on to operate over vast distances. They can identify vulnerabilities specific to SCADA systems and develop targeted security measures to protect them.

PLCs and Real-Time Control

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) play a central role in real-time control processes. An OT security expert knows how to secure these critical components without disrupting operations. They can implement security measures that protect your PLCs while ensuring the seamless and uninterrupted functioning of your energy systems.


Distributed Control Systems (DCS) are usually seen at large-scale facilities in the energy industry. A well-versed OT security expert understands the technical intricacies of the system, as well as the nuances of working with DCS vendors. This expert can remediate and integrate technologies that work in conjunction with the DCS without compromising existing DCS warranties or service agreements.

IT and OT Collaboration

An OT security expert is well-versed in bridging the gap between IT and OT, traditionally separate domains. They understand the importance of securing the connections between IT and OT systems while ensuring the integrity and reliability of operations.

#3 Comprehensive Solutions

Comprehensive OT security solutions aren’t a one-time fix; they require a holistic and phased approach. An OT security provider should work closely with your organization to develop a customized security strategy that aligns with your unique needs and risk tolerance. Here’s what a comprehensive approach entails:

Risk Assessments

Comprehensive security begins with a thorough risk assessment. This involves identifying potential vulnerabilities in your OT environment, understanding their impact on your operations, and prioritizing them based on their severity and likelihood. A provider can conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to help you make informed decisions about where to allocate resources for security improvements.

Infrastructure Assessments

Building on the insights gained from risk assessments, infrastructure assessments provide specific insights into weaknesses within your OT environment. These assessments go beyond identifying vulnerabilities; they provide actionable recommendations for mitigating them effectively.

Real-Time Monitoring

Real-time monitoring continuously analyzes network traffic and system behavior, identifying anomalies and potential breaches as they occur. This real-time visibility enables swift responses to emerging threats.

Incident Response Planning

Incident response plans should be tailored to your organization’s specific needs and risks. They outline the step-by-step procedures to follow in the event of a security breach, ensuring minimal disruption to operations and effective containment of the incident.

Ongoing Monitoring and Updates

The threat landscape is dynamic, and security measures must evolve to address emerging risks. An OT security provider should offer continuous support, including monitoring for new threats, implementing patches and security updates, and refining security measures based on evolving risks.

A comprehensive approach ensures that your OT environment is protected at all levels, from risk assessment to incident response and ongoing monitoring, providing a layered defense against cyber threats.

#4 Compliance and Regulatory Knowledge

An OT security provider with compliance and regulatory knowledge can be a valuable partner when it comes to navigating cybersecurity regulations and standards.

Here’s why this expertise is essential:

Compliance Assessments

A knowledgeable provider can conduct compliance assessments to understand your organization’s adherence to relevant regulations and standards. They can identify areas of non-compliance and provide actionable recommendations for correction.

Policy Development

Developing and implementing policies and procedures that align with regulatory requirements is crucial for maintaining compliance. An experienced provider can assist in crafting policies that meet regulatory expectations while aligning with your organization’s operational needs.

Evolving Regulations

A knowledgeable provider stays ahead of new regulations and updates to existing ones, ensuring that your organization remains compliant with the latest standards.


Choosing the right OT security service provider involves careful consideration of industry experience, expertise in OT security, ability to provide comprehensive solutions, and knowledge of regulatory standards and compliance. In part 2 of this series, coming soon, we’ll look at three more critical factors to consider.

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