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Siemens and Zscaler partner to bring zero trust to operational tech

Siemens and Zscaler are partnering on integrated zero trust security solutions for Operational Technology (OT) systems and applications.

These new capabilities are designed to enable users to remotely manage and control quality assurance or diagnoses issues, the company states.

Essentially, Siemens and Zscaler have expanded the 'Defense-in-Depth' OT concept secured by a zero trust architecture.

Based on the principle of 'least-privilege access', zero trust only authorises application-specific access based on verified user identity and context. In combination with the existing OT security mechanisms, such as cell protection firewalls, this allows implementation of a granular access concept.

In addition, production requirements for availability and real-time capabilities continue to be met. This is operationalised by installing the app connector for the cloud-based remote access service Zscaler Private Access (ZPA) on a Docker container in the Siemens Scalance LPE local processing platform, thus creating an access solution for industrial environments.

Centralised management in the Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange cloud platform and the use of outbound connections facilitate more restrictive configuration of existing firewall rules, and the reduction of operating costs for administration and monitoring, the company states.

Existing legacy systems can also be retrofitted with the Zero Trust Exchange solution. This offering is now available to customers worldwide through Zscaler and Siemens.

Siemens information technology CIO Hanna Hennig says, "Operators of larger corporate networks are faced with the challenge of carrying out production work remotely with uniform security guidelines for OT and IT.

"By combining our communication technology with Zscaler technology, we can bring IT's zero trust approach directly into the OT environment. We have already successfully tested this approach in some of our own plants."

Zscaler OT security office of CEO Deepak Patel says, "Today, the protection of companies can no longer be limited to just IT settings. In times of converging IT and OT infrastructures, organisations must also take the security and access requirements of their production surroundings into account.

"Together, Siemens and Zscaler are now bringing the benefits of zero trust to OT environments, thereby increasing control and protection mechanisms for all technology assets, including in production environments."

The company highlights that at presentt, industrial networks mainly use a protection concept in which the system is subdivided into separate production cells. Each of these cells is individually protected by appropriate measures, such as a cell protection firewall.

In office networks, the zero trust concept is steadily gaining traction, with all participants, users and devices first having to prove their identity and integrity before communication with a target resource can take place.

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