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The Importance of Resilient OT Networks: Insights from Jacob Marzloff

ICS Pulse Podcast hosts Gary Cohen and Tyler Wall recently invited Armexa President and Co-Founder Jacob Marzloff to share his insights on why the resilience of operational technology (OT) networks is so important, especially in sectors like energy, where the stakes are incredibly high.

Here are some highlights from the conversation.

The Growing Need for OT Resilience

Before the hosts ever officially introduced Jacob, they talked about Armexa’s headquarters being in Houston, a city known for its extreme summer heat and humidity (among tornadoes and storms and floods during other seasons), which can impact critical infrastructure.

They emphasized that while acts of nature can be catastrophic, human errors and deliberate attacks pose significant threats to the stability of OT networks. As we move into the hot summer months, particularly in regions like Houston, the failure of critical infrastructure like electricity can quickly lead to chaotic situations.

Jacob highlighted a striking point: if your electricity goes down on a scorching August day in Houston, it doesn’t take long before society begins to break down. This underlines the necessity of having a resilient and well-protected OT network to prevent such scenarios.

Understanding OT Security and Its Challenges

The conversation touched on the history and evolution of OT cybersecurity. Not long ago, OT cybersecurity wasn’t given the attention it deserved. Today, however, the landscape has shifted, with increasing awareness of the importance of protecting these critical systems.

Jacob’s career reflects this change. Starting in the IT department of Anadarko Petroleum, he quickly moved into what would become OT security, responsible for supporting 75 facilities with a minimal team. This experience underscored the scale and importance of OT infrastructure and the challenges in securing it. 

The Importance of Resilient OT Networks in Energy

Jacob elaborated on why resilient OT networks are crucial for the energy sector. These networks aren’t just about security; they also ensure continuous operations. Energy facilities typically run 24/7, and any downtime can have severe financial and operational repercussions.

It is vital to ensure that small mistakes or external threats don’t disrupt operations. Hardening them requires both the resilience of the system itself and the security measures layered on top of it.

Why Cyber Attacks on Critical Infrastructure?

Jacob explained that critical infrastructure is a compelling target for attackers due to the significant financial stakes involved. For example, a ransomware attack on a facility generating substantial revenue can quickly compel a company to pay a ransom to avoid massive losses. Additionally, geopolitical tensions can lead to state-sponsored attacks on critical infrastructure, further highlighting the need for robust OT security measures.

Characteristics of an Effective and Resilient OT Network

Jacob outlined key characteristics of a resilient OT network, emphasizing two main aspects: the network itself and the systems it supports. From a networking standpoint, using appropriate protocols and ensuring proper segmentation are vital. This prevents a single point of failure from affecting the entire network. On the system side, integrating systems with strong authentication measures and ensuring that operations can continue even if parts of the network go down are crucial.

Practical Steps for Building OT Resilience

For organizations looking to build resilience in their OT networks, Jacob recommended focusing on the basics: good architecture, robust design and strong policies. He stressed the importance of not rushing into deploying new technologies without first establishing a solid foundation. Understanding the network’s layout, ensuring that firewalls are properly configured, and knowing who has access are all fundamental steps in this process.

Technological Advancements Shaping OT Cybersecurity

Technological advancements are continually shaping the field of OT cybersecurity. Jacob pointed out that many organizations are moving towards more data-driven and consequence-driven decisions. This shift is helping to better understand and prioritize risks within OT environments. He also emphasized the importance of backing up systems to mitigate the impact of ransomware attacks and other cyber threats.


Prioritizing strong foundational security measures and keeping up with technological advancements are essential strategies for protecting critical infrastructure against cyber threats.

Jacob’s insights underscore the need for a proactive and well-rounded approach to OT security, ensuring organizations can maintain resilient and secure operations.


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