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Cybersecurity solutions provider Fortinet has announced a technology alliance partnership with Siemens, in the companies’ first integrated solution combining best-in-class technology and a worldwide resell agreement to address the unique security and connectivity requirements of operational technology (OT) networks.

While OT environments have traditionally been isolated from the rest of the IT network, efforts to converge IT and OT to provide more responsive and agile business outcomes have exposed OT and industrial control systems (ICS) to increased cybersecurity risk.

According to the SANS 2019 OT/ICS Survey, just over 50% of respondents rated the level of ICS cyber risk to their organisation as “severe/critical” or “high.” However, given the nature of many OT environments, traditional security solutions can sometimes leave gaps in the protection of the ageing or sensitive systems in place.

Additionally, deploying reliable connectivity and security in harsh and frequently remote or substation environments has traditionally not been easy. While rugged products do exist, assembling and deploying the various parts of the complete solution can create issues with connectivity, reliability, space, and even physical security.

Highlighting the growing importance of cybersecurity in OT environments and the need for solutions specifically created for OT networks, Siemens has joined the Fortinet Fabric-Ready Technology Alliance Partner Program to address the security challenges associated with the convergence of OT and IT networks.

The solution from Fortinet and Siemens integrates Fortinet’s industry-leading FortiGate Next-Generation Firewall with the Ruggedcom Multi-Service Platform family of switches and routers to improve the integration of cybersecurity into locations with harsh environments such as electrical substations while simplifying management, space, and power issues.

By simplifying deployment to a single piece of hardware, the power, space, physical security, and connectivity issues typically encountered outside of a single box deployment model are resolved. Remote management further simplifies deployment and ongoing management. In addition to this joint solution, Siemens will bring to market Fortinet’s FortiGate Next-Generation Firewall VM bundled with the APE 1808 to further enable the availability of advanced security solutions for OT environments.

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Today’s announcement is further testament to Fortinet and Siemens’ commitment to creating OT-specific solutions designed to address the unique needs and requirements of their joint customers. The Fortinet Security Fabric provides a unique integrated and automated platform approach to security through purpose-built solutions and AI threat intelligence, combined with strategic partnerships with some of the industry’s leading security specialists. Unlike most security platforms, the Fortinet Security Fabric is flexible enough to easily accommodate and integrate with a large number of partners to provide truly comprehensive security coverage.

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“OT networks are increasingly exposed to cyber threats through their convergence with IT systems. This partnership enables our customers to get even more value from their security deployments and facilitates the development and delivery of truly comprehensive, end-to-end security solutions specifically designed for OT environments,” said John Maddison, EVP of products and CMO at Fortinet

Hannes Barth, General Manager Siemens Ruggedcom said “Organisations with OT systems face a unique set of requirements when it comes to connectivity and security. As a Fortinet Fabric-Ready Partner, we are able to bring leading cybersecurity technology to our customers to integrate this offering within new projects as well as our vast installed base. This ensures their networks not only stay up and running but also remain secure even in the harshest environments.”