The Shortage of OT Cybersecurity Analysts and What to Do about It

   Sep 11, 2023 | Radiflow team

In an increasingly interconnected world where industries rely heavily on digitization and automation, the role of Operational Technology (OT) Cybersecurity Analyst (OTCA) has become crucial for safeguarding our way of life. The OTCA plays a pivotal role in defending industries ranging from energy and manufacturing to transportation and utilities against cyber threats that would disrupt operations, compromise safety, and trigger severe economic hardships. Despite the already-high and increasing value of this profession, a daunting challenge has emerged: we have a dire shortage of skilled OT Cybersecurity Analysts.

What are the reasons for this shortage and what can we do about it?

Where are the OT Cyber Analysts?

Globally, industries and critical infrastructure are having a desperate time finding the OTCAs who can deliver on the challenge. We identify five distinct factors that amplify the shortage of skilled OT Cybersecurity Analysts who can defend OT environments against the hacker onslaught.

  1. Special Requirements of OT

Traditional IT cybersecurity skills do not meet the stringent requirements of OT environments. As good as they are in their own IT environment, IT cyber analysts do not possess intricate knowledge about industrial assets, protocols, processes, and control systems. OT companies need analysts who possess a blend of IT and engineering expertise—a rare breed.

      2. Lack of Training Programs

Unlike the plethora of programs catering to general IT cybersecurity, specialized training for OT analysts remains scarce. Aspiring OTCAs lack a clear path to acquire the necessary skills, deterring students and professionals from transitioning to this critical field.

      3. Rapidly Evolving Threat Landscape

Hackers have certainly discovered the value in disrupting OT. Cyber threats targeting industrial sectors. These are evolving at an unprecedented pace. New attack vectors, such as ransomware target critical infrastructure, threatening to shut down water, electricity, energy, and other critical services upon which we all rely. Analysts find it increasingly difficult to adapt to the unceasing evolution of threats.

      4. Retention Challenges

As the demand surges for skilled OT Cybersecurity Analysts, organizations are under immense pressure to retain their existing talent. This often leads to aggressive compensation packages that only government and large-scale manufacturers can afford, crowding out the smaller players. It also rewards rapid job-switching.

      5. Limited Awareness

The unique and vital role of OT Cybersecurity Analysts is not as widely understood as traditional IT security roles. This lack of awareness makes it harder for educational institutions to prioritize building the necessary skills through career development and degree programs.


The shortage of OT cybersecurity analysts reverberates throughout society. Repercussions extend to the core of industrial operations and the economy as well as safety and security.

  1. Operational Disruption

A successful cyberattack on critical infrastructure can lead to dreadful disruptions to daily life, such as production halts, power outages, and transportation breakdowns. These disruptions not only result in financial losses but also impact supply chains and the broader economy.

       2. Safety Risks

Compromised control systems can lead to hazardous situations, risking the safety of personnel and the environment.

       3. National Security

Critical infrastructures are often intertwined with national security. A shortage of OT Cybersecurity Analysts weakens a nation’s ability to defend against cyber threats that could potentially wound the ability to defend itself.

       4. Innovation Stagnation

If industries become more risk-averse due to cybersecurity concerns, innovation will be stifled. Companies might shy away from adopting emerging technologies, advanced (highly connected) machines, and innovative processes due to the new vulnerabilities that these would invite.

Addressing the Shortage

Solving the shortage of OT Cybersecurity Analysts requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses education, awareness, and talent cultivation. Here are our suggestions:

  1. Education and Training Programs

Collaborations between academic institutions, industry experts, and governmental bodies are crucial for developing specialized training programs. Incorporating industrial methods, hands-on exercises, and real-world simulations can prepare analysts for the complexities of OT environments.

      2. Career Paths

Establishing clear career paths and personnel development plans can attract more professionals to the field. Organizations should emphasize the unique challenges and opportunities that OT cybersecurity roles present.

      3. Cross-Training

The current population of IT cybersecurity professionals is a great, immediate talent pool to draw from. Encouraging IT cybersecurity analysts to diversify their skill set by transitioning to OT can help alleviate the shortage.

     4. Public Awareness

Governments and industry associations must collaborate to raise public awareness about the critical role of OT Cybersecurity Analysts, thus inspiring more students to pursue relevant careers while encouraging professionals to transition.

      5. Incentives

It’s easier and less expensive to retain good people than to try to hire new ones. Organizations must prioritize retention of existing OT cybersecurity talent with competitive compensation, continuous skill development, and a supportive work environment.

We Can Do This

The shortage of OT cybersecurity analysts is not just a technical issue, It’s a challenge that permeates economics, security, and public safety. Urgent and concerted efforts are needed to address the skill shortage in order to build the necessary robust OT security workforce capable of defending against evolving cyber threats. By investing in education, training, awareness, and talent retention, industrial operators can fortify their defenses and ensure a secure, resilient future for our interconnected, highly digitized world.

Contact us to see how it can protect your operations in the way that best works for you. 

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