IIoT, ICS & OT: The Hidden Technology of Modern Society | 404 | Ep. 4

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Episode Summary

In Episode #4 of the “404 Cybersecurity Not Found” podcast, our host, Brad Thomas, is joined by Red Teaming expert, Momen Eldawakhly. Our discussion centres on Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and the technology behind National Critical Infrastructure (NCI). Momen, a Senior Penetration Tester and Attack Simulation Lead at Samurai Security, shares his expertise on the subject.

Introduction to ICS and OT:

  • ICS (Industrial Control Systems): These systems integrate hardware and software to manage industrial processes. Examples include SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), DCS (Distributed Control Systems), and PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers).
  • OT (Operational Technology): This refers to the hardware and software that detect or cause changes through direct monitoring and control of physical devices, processes, and events in the enterprise.
  • HMI (Human-Machine Interface): HMIs allow humans to interact with machines and are crucial in industrial settings, displaying data from ICS to operators for real-time decision-making.

Current Applications of ICSs and OTs in Industry:

  • OT and ICS are widely used in energy, water, transportation, manufacturing, and chemical industries, and are integral to national infrastructure, managing critical services like power, water supply, and transportation.
  • Energy: ICS controls power generation, distribution, and consumption. Example: SCADA systems manage electrical grids.
  • Oil and Gas: ICS oversees extraction, refining, and distribution processes.
  • Water: ICS manages water treatment and distribution.
  • Transportation and Manufacturing: ICS is integral in various processes ensuring efficient and safe operations.

Vulnerabilities and Threats to ICS:

  • ICS systems, often built without security in mind, are easy to attack and crucial for infrastructure. This therefore this leaves us susceptible to potential country-wide disruptions, and economic and social instability.
  • In worst-case scenarios, cybercriminals seek to exploit vulnerabilities for financial gain, often through ransomware attacks on essential services that cannot afford downtime.

Potential Solutions:


  • Preventing public exposure of critical infrastructure devices to the internet.
  • Implementing basic cybersecurity measures to protect against known vulnerabilities.


  • Secure design and coding practices from the development phase.
  • Regular security assessments, code reviews, and infrastructure testing.
  • Enhanced collaboration between manufacturers and implementers for better security integration.

Regulatory and Industry Efforts:

  • Need for Robust Standards: Like ISO 27001 but tailored for OT and ICS to ensure consistent security practices.
  • Mandated Compliance: Regulatory frameworks should enforce penalties for non-compliance to encourage better security practices.


The conversation highlights the crucial need to address cybersecurity vulnerabilities in OT and ICS to prevent potentially devastating consequences. It is imperative that industry-wide efforts and regulatory measures are put in place to ensure a more secure future for critical infrastructure. Advocacy for increased research and development in cybersecurity for these systems is essential, along with ongoing education and awareness efforts to highlight the significance of securing national infrastructure. Encouraging industry collaboration and regulatory enforcement will play a vital role in achieving this goal, ultimately fostering a safer and more resilient technological landscape.