May 16, 2024
5 min read

How Access and Supervisory Controls Strengthen OT Security

Written By

Amnon Wiesel

The world of operational technology (OT) is undergoing a period of evolution. Industrial enterprises across sectors are embracing digitization and connectivity, with 72% pursuing some degree of convergence between OT and information technology (IT) systems according to recent research. In this new reality, ensuring secure access to critical systems has become more challenging but also more essential.  

In this blog post, we will explore the pivotal role played by access management controls (such as multi-factor authentication) and oversight/supervisory controls (such as real-time session monitoring) in safeguarding OT environments and empowering industrial organizations to thrive in a dynamic landscape characterized by both risks and opportunities. 

Understanding the Changing OT Landscape 

Operational technology encompasses a diverse array of systems and devices used in all types of industrial settings, ranging from manufacturing plants to energy facilities. What OT systems have in common is that they form the backbone of the essential processes that ultimately provide us with electricity and clean water and keep our stores stocked with the goods we need. It’s easy to see why security and reliability are vital and non-negotiable. However, escalating cyberthreats as well as growing regulatory pressures present significant challenges for the security professionals tasked with protecting OT systems and the processes they enable.  

How Cyolo Secures OT Access 

At Cyolo, we understand the distinctive security needs of industrial organizations, and we designed the Cyolo PRO advanced secure remote access solution with these in mind. The recently released Cyolo PRO 6.0 provides the access, connectivity, and supervisory controls that organizations need to ensure the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of their critical systems. Leveraging state-of-the-art technology and built around industry best practices like least privilege access and zero trust, Cyolo PRO is a comprehensive platform that addresses the complex security challenges facing modern OT environments. 

4 Roles That Are Crucial to OT Security 

As organizations grow and onboard more types of users and devices, the need to control access to critical assets becomes greater. Access controls, like multi-factor authentication (MFA), and supervisory controls, like just-in-time (JIT) access and auditing, form the cornerstone of OT security by enabling organizations to control and monitor user access to sensitive assets while also maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements. By separating approval, supervisory, and auditing privileges into several separate roles with corresponding capabilities and responsibilities, organizations can spread the workload and help guarantee that the proper controls are enforced.  

 The following four roles help enforce OT security.   

  1. Approvers: Approvers are responsible for approving or denying access requests within the Cyolo PRO platform. Approvers play a critical role in ensuring that only authorized personnel can interact with critical OT assets via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), Secure Shell (SSH), or Virtual Network Computing (VNC). Thanks to JIT access capabilities, access can also be approved for a specific timeframe only.  

  2. Active Supervisors: With the ability to join sessions interactively and monitor activities in real-time, active supervisors are key to detecting and responding to security threats across critical applications like RDP, SSH, and VNC. Cyolo PRO empowers active supervisors to verify the identity of users and devices, enhancing overall access security. 

  3. Observer Supervisors: While not directly involved in interactive sessions, observer supervisors provide valuable insights into access patterns and system performance across critical applications. Using Cyolo PRO's comprehensive monitoring features and analytics engine, observer supervisors can identify emerging threats and optimize security protocols. 

  4. Auditors: Administrators can assign identities (users and groups) to the auditor role within the Cyolo PRO platform, granting them access to playback recordings of application sessions (including specific sessions only) within the system. Auditors can use this access to gain valuable insights into past events and to enable proactive risk management strategies. Auditors thus play a crucial role in monitoring and auditing access activities, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements, and facilitating incident response efforts. 

How Cyolo Unlocks Value for OT Companies 

With access controls like MFA and supervisory controls like JIT access and session auditing, the Cyolo PRO comprehensive secure remote access platform offers several key benefits for OT companies: 

  1. Enhanced Security: By leveraging Cyolo PRO’s advanced authentication and authorization mechanisms, organizations can bolster their security posture and mitigate the risk of cyberattacks across critical assets.

  2. Streamlined Access Management: Cyolo PRO's intuitive interface and seamless integration capabilities enable OT companies to streamline access management processes, ensuring efficient approval workflows and real-time monitoring capabilities across applications, while maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements

  3. Compliance Readiness: With robust audit trails and compliance reporting features, Cyolo PRO facilitates regulatory compliance efforts, helping companies to demonstrate adherence to industry regulations and standards while also providing auditors with the tools they need to monitor and audit access activities effectively. 

  4. Actionable Insights: Through Cyolo PRO's advanced analytics engine and auditor roles, organizations gain vital insights into access patterns, user behaviors, and system performance metrics across critical applications. These insights enable proactive risk management strategies and improve incident response efforts.  


In an era defined by digital transformation and interconnectedness, ensuring the security of operational technology is more important than ever. Cyolo works hand in hand with organizations across the industrial space to secure their most critical systems and applications in a way that meets compliance and regulatory requirements. At Cyolo, we're committed to supporting OT and security professionals in their mission to protect critical systems and infrastructure against both current and future threats.   

Learn more about Cyolo PRO or schedule a personalized demo to see the platform in action.  

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