More than a century after Henry Ford installed the first moving assembly line, factories are growing smarter thanks to proliferations of sensors and connected equipment, dubbed the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Companies are keen to cash in on benefits, which include increased operational efficiency, productivity and worker safety, and the IoT budgets of large companies are expected to exceed $520bn over the next four years. However, 42% are worried about embracing IIoT technology because of security risks such as hacking, a Bain report reveals, with the costs associated with ransomware and downtime running into millions of dollars.
Israeli startup SCADAfence is allowing manufacturers and big businesses to jump on the IoT bandwagon with confidence, as it’s the only security platform built to keep complex operational technology (OT) networks running smoothly as businesses embrace digital transformations, including IoT technology.
Smart from the start
The company was founded in 2014 in response to growth in the number of devices that are connecting to OT environments, as the IoT is more widely adopted. “We foresaw there will be more connections from the traditional or old school industrial devices into modernized IT environments. So we launched SCADAfence to enable organizations to be secure and to have full control of their OT environments as they adopt industrial IoT,” says CEO Elad Ben-Meir.
How it works
The software is deployed as a non-intrusive component in an OT network, by integrating with a mirroring port in network switches, so there is no impact on day-to-day operational processes. The platform algorithms are automatically configured without any input from the user or any downtime or the setup process, preventing this extra layer of technology from being intimidating to businesses. The software can then start to monitor the OT network activities, discovering all assets in the network and their characteristics. Through continuous monitoring, the SCADAfence algorithms offer real-time detection of malicious activities and deviations from normal behavioural profiles that could threaten the network - including cyber-attacks and non-malicious threats.
“SCADAfence works better than all other products in our space since we do it at scale. We’re able to support smaller environments with dozens of devices and larger environments with tens of thousands of devices,” says Ben-Meir.
How it’s used
SCADAfence’s platform is currently being used by a global automotive company that needed to detect vulnerabilities and misconfigurations across its factory assets. Just as the business needs to produce four different cars on its production line, its networks need to be flexible. “SCADAfence’s algorithms were able to detect malicious and/or anomalous internal activities that jeopardized the operational continuity of the entire network,” Ben-Meir says, adding that the algorithms were the only ones to be able to spot constant changes to the network without sending hundreds of false positives to the security team.
SCADAfence says its platform increases productivity and improves maintenance and predictive maintenance, while reducing downtime and the costs associated with ransomware or other cyber-attacks. These costs can be vast. Research in 2006 showed that an hour of downtime in the auto industry costs an average of $1,200,000, while a cyberattack cost Merck a staggering $670,000,000 in 2017. “These attacks could have been avoided if there was proper network monitoring solution in place,” Ben-Meir says.
SCADAfence and Oracle
SCADAfence has integrated with Oracle’s OT industrial platforms and intends to build a product designed to help customers adopt industrial OT security through it. “The correlation between operational data - such as productivity issues - and security incidents can help identify the root cause of issues and that’s how Oracle & SCADAfence can take securing OT to the next level,” Ben-Meir says.
Being part of Oracle for Startups has connected the young company with industry leaders to help it shape its future in the IIoT space, while also identifying what challenges its customers face when adapting to cloud environments in their manufacturing facilities. The Oracle Cloud Infrastructure has also helped SCADAfence work with organisations that have multiple facilities, helping it sell its SCADAfence MultiSite feature.
The adoption of IoT technology has soared since the startup launched five years ago. “We’re seeing more demand from multiple industries in manufacturing like automotive, pharma, electronics, and food and beverage, as well as in chemical industries, utilities, oil and gas, as well as BMS industries such as hospitals, commercial buildings and airports,” Ben-Meir says. The startup is focusing on ensuring its platform can cope with every use case and is working with Oracle to make sure it can integrate with industry leaders.
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