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OT vs IT SIEM – What Are the Differences?

Nathan Oliver

Nathan Oliver, Head of Cyber Security
Nov 03, 2023

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Understanding the differences between OT (operational technology) and IT (information technology) Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is crucial for companies that operate in both environments. These two serve similar core functions but are tailored to meet the unique requirements and challenges of their respective domains. Failing to recognise these distinctions can lead to inefficiencies, increased safety risks, and missed opportunities for optimisation. Hence, this article aims to shed light on OT and IT SIEM, how they differ, and why it's essential to make the right choice based on your organisation's specific needs.

What Is SIEM?

This is a system that aggregates and analyses data from various sources within an organisation's technology infrastructure. It aims to provide real-time monitoring, alerting, and reporting to help security teams identify and manage online threats.

Key Functions
Here are the main roles:

Real-Time Monitoring
Continuously monitors data flows and user activities across the network, flagging abnormal patterns or behaviours.
Log Management
Collects and stores logs from various sources for audit trails and forensic investigations.
Configured with predefined rules to trigger alerts for specific activities or events, allowing for immediate action.
Data Aggregation and Correlation
Pulls data from disparate sources and correlates it to identify patterns suggesting a cyber threat.
Compliance Reporting
Generates compliance reports to meet legal and regulatory standards for monitoring and reporting specific activities.
Incident Response
Automates responses such as blocking malicious IP addresses or isolating affected systems once a threat is identified.

What Is OT SIEM?

An OT SIEM is a specialised system designed for monitoring, analysing, and managing security events in industrial control systems (ICS) and other processes with a focus on detecting anomalies, ensuring compliance, and protecting against threats specific to industrial operations.

For professionals, this is an invaluable tool because it aids in identifying cyber threats and helps in understanding their potential impact on physical processes. This dual focus is essential for making informed decisions quickly, a necessity in environments where a delay of seconds could lead to significant safety risks or downtime.

Here's a closer look at some of its features:

  • Threat Detection: Traditional cyber defence solutions may not be adept at recognising the specialised threats that target ICS. OT SIEM can, however, detect these specific vulnerabilities, thereby offering a more focused layer of protection against attacks that could compromise critical infrastructure.
  • Device Performance Metrics: Monitoring the health of machinery is not just about preventing mechanical failure; it's also about ensuring process efficiency. OT SIEM tracks key performance indicators of devices, enabling timely interventions that can prevent costly downtimes and maintain optimal performance levels.
  • Asset Identification: In industrial settings, the range of devices can vary from simple sensors to complex programmable logic controllers. OT SIEM excels in identifying and cataloguing these diverse assets, offering a comprehensive inventory that aids in both security and planning.
  • Process Sensor Data: It integrates industrial data into its monitoring functions, providing a more complete view of the operational landscape. This is invaluable for identifying anomalies that could signify both safety threats and functional inefficiencies.

Threat Landscape
OT primarily deals with control systems, industrial networks, and critical infrastructure and faces unique threats such as unauthorised access, industrial espionage, and sabotage, which can have catastrophic consequences, including physical damage and safety risks. For SIEM in OT, this means a priority on monitoring not just data but also machine operations and control commands. Anomalies in these areas can be early indicators of a breach, requiring specialised configurations tailored for the environments.

What Is IT SIEM?

This is a system created to monitor, analyse, and respond to security events in IT environments with the aim of safeguarding digital assets, networks, and data. Managed SIEM solutions serve as the cornerstone for many businesses' online defence strategies, offering a centralised platform for real-time and historical data analysis.
IT SIEM offers a comprehensive set of features created to enhance an organisation's online defence posture. 

  • Network Monitoring: It continuously scans all incoming and outgoing network traffic to identify unusual patterns or anomalies that could signify a cyber threat, such as unauthorised access or data exfiltration attempts.
  • User Behavior Analytics: It tracks user behaviour to identify abnormal patterns like multiple failed login attempts or unusual data access, which could be indicators of an insider threat or compromised credentials.
  • Threat Intelligence Feeds: To stay ahead of emerging attacks, the systems often integrate with external threat intelligence services. These feeds provide real-time information about new types of attacks, security weaknesses, and other cyber risks, enabling it to adapt its detection algorithms accordingly.
  • Incident Management: When a security event is detected, time is of the essence. SIEM systems can automate certain response actions, such as isolating a compromised system or blocking an IP address, to contain the threat quickly and minimise damage.

Threat Landscape
IT is more concerned with data storage, retrieval, and manipulation and is often a target for data breaches, ransomware, and phishing scams. These attacks aim to compromise information integrity or disrupt services. SIEM in IT environments is geared towards scrutinising user activities, application behaviours, and data transactions. It helps in the early detection of abnormal data transfers, thereby enabling rapid response to mitigate potential damage.

OT vs IT SIEM: A Tabular Comparison

Information Source
Utilises operational data such as sensor outputs and machinery health metrics.
Relies on digital elements like network activity, user interactions, and log files.
Evaluation Metrics
Emphasises the importance of ensuring safety, reliability, and productivity (SRP).
Concentrates on safeguarding the privacy, integrity, and availability (CIA) of the network.
Monitoring Scope
Supports decentralised visibility, offering both on-site and remote data access.
Typically employs a centralised approach, often via a Security Operations Centre (SOC).
Value Proposition
Serves dual roles in enhancing safety and boosting functional efficiency.
Mainly acts as a cybersecurity mechanism, with value assessed in terms of risk reduction and regulatory adherence.

Reasons Organisations Are Adopting OT SIEM

The adoption of OT SIEM is gaining momentum due to several critical factors. Firstly, the complex and high-stakes nature of operational processes in manufacturing or energy industries necessitates real-time threat monitoring for defence and system performance. OT SIEM provides this integrated surveillance, mitigating risks effectively.

Secondly, as OT and IT systems increasingly converge, network segmentation becomes both essential and complicated. OT SIEM resolves this by offering multi-segment network monitoring, ensuring consistent safety measures across all zones. Lastly, the stringent regulatory landscape in various sectors makes compliance a challenging task. It eases this burden by automating compliance reporting and alerts.

Microminder Can Help You Secure Your OT Assets

Microminder offers specialised IT and OT security solutions designed to safeguard your complex industrial environments and network. Our managed SIEM services help you address the unique challenges posed by the intricacy and criticality of industrial processes, providing ongoing surveillance of both cyber threats and operational performance.

We also offer multi-segment network monitoring to ensure a consistent security posture across your segmented OT infrastructure. In addition, our services simplify compliance management by generating custom reports to meet industry-specific regulations like NERC CIP or HIPAA.

Why Choose Us?

  • Client-Centric Approach: At the heart of our approach lies a commitment to understanding and solving your unique challenges. We offer bespoke OT and IT SIEM solutions that align with your specific requirements, regardless of your organisation's size.
  • Wide-Ranging Expertise: Our service offerings are diverse, encompassing custom penetration tests, vulnerability assessments, red team exercises, structural evaluations, and cloud security management. Our goal is to fortify your business from multiple angles.
  • Decades of Experience: With expertise in the cybersecurity field and collaborations with over 2400 global entities, we bring a wealth of knowledge and proven strategies to help bolster your defence.
  • State-Of-The-Art Solutions: We leverage cutting-edge technologies to provide top-tier services. Our methodology combines technological innovation with human expertise and established processes, aiming to elevate the safety and efficiency of both your digital and physical assets.

By choosing us, you're opting for an all-around, client-focused approach backed by years of experience and the latest in cybersecurity technology. Ready for a comprehensive OT and IT security solution? Get in touch with our team today.


Navigating the nuanced realms of OT and IT SIEM is crucial for bolstering cybersecurity in today's digital landscape. Microminder's tailored SIEM solutions offer a strategic pathway for organisations to safeguard their informational assets effectively. Hence, by embracing specialised SIEM solutions, companies are well-positioned to foster a resilient, compliant, and secure operational ecosystem amidst the evolving convergence of OT and IT systems.

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