The Importance of Scoping Before Assessing Cybersecurity in IT/OT Environments

As organizations integrate information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) systems, it becomes critical to evaluate cybersecurity risks across the entire connected environment. However, before you can effectively assess cybersecurity, it is essential to scope the evaluation properly. Rushing into an assessment without careful scoping can lead to incomplete results, wasted effort, and missed threats.  

 Here are some key reasons why proper scoping is crucial: 

Define Objectives and Constraints  

Scoping begins by clearly defining the goals, constraints, and timeline of the assessment. Are you evaluating security controls, identifying vulnerabilities, assessing a specific threat like ransomware? What systems and assets are in scope? What limitations exist around operational impacts, costs, or resources? Defining these upfront ensures the assessment stays focused and aligns with business needs. 


Understanding the Environment 

IT/OT environments can be enormously complex, with legacy systems, proprietary protocols, and strict uptime requirements. Taking time to thoroughly understand the environment lets you identify specialized risks, system interactions, and unique constraints. This informs scoping by highlighting high priority areas and assets. Trying to assess security without this baseline knowledge is inefficient at best and can overlook major threats. 


Gain Buy-In  

Scoping presents the objectives, approach, expected outcomes, and impact of testing to stakeholders. This upfront communication ensures leadership buy-in, coordinates access to systems and experts, and manages expectations. Attempting assessments without this groundwork leads to surprises that can sabotage outcomes. 


To sum it all up, solid scoping sets up an effective cybersecurity assessment by defining goals, constraints and environment specifics. It also brings stakeholders on board. Rushing ahead without these steps can lead to vague, incomplete, or misleading results that overlook major risks. Invest time in scoping for successful IT/OT security assessments. 


Brent Gage

After beginning his career as a roustabout on an offshore drilling rig, Brent is now a cybersecurity specialist at who performs client consultation and assessments while maintaining and monitoring the platform’s hosting infrastructure.

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