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Protecting the Industrial Internet of Things

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Protecting the Industrial Internet of Things

Idan Udi Edry is a distinguished veteran in the fields of information technology and data security, as well as an experienced leader driving innovation and execution at scale. Edry has mastered multiple disciplines and has accumulated thirteen formal certifications from the world’s most renowned IT and telecommunications institutes.
Edry currently serves as the CEO of Nation-E, a global leader in cyber protection for critical infrastructure, and agreed to share his take on how companies can protect their assets in the age of the industrial internet of things (IIOT). For more information, visit www.nation-e.com.
MPT: Most people are familiar with cyber-attacks on finance and personal privacy, but what are the threats posed to critical infrastructure?
Idan Udi Edry: The threat of cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure is severe. Critical infrastructure contains some of our most important utilities and services, crucial to our way of life. Utilities such as electricity generation, the water supply, oil, and gas production, transportation, emergency communications, and public health services. A properly executed cyber-attack could derail services for an entire region for an indeterminable amount of time. Imagine losing heating and air conditioning services for weather-affected areas, generators for hospitals, and waste-disposal services. Deaths would rise exponentially as the outages continued and panic among the public set in. The consequences of such an attack would be unimaginably horrible.
MPT:  Automated and centralized systems have brought about greater efficiency, but have we also left ourselves susceptible to hacking and cyber-attacks? How can we achieve a productive balance?
Idan Udi Edry: It’s true that automation has brought about greater speed, efficiency and lowered the cost of these services. But with these advantages comes greater risk. The problem is that when these systems were conceived, cyberattacks were not as prevalent, and certainly not in critical infrastructure. So they were not designed with internal security measures. But as we become more and more dependent on these networks to control our critical infrastructure, our vulnerabilities become vividly apparent. If a cyber attacker were to successfully hack into a system, they would have complete control, and the power to do severe damage.
We want to keep the progress we’ve made, yet secure our utilities from cyber-attacks. That is where comprehensive cybersecurity comes in. Cybersecurity methods must stay ahead of the hackers, and we must constantly evolve our practices and strategies to identify different attack methods before they happen. Having a safe and secure network for our critical infrastructure is paramount to our success as a society.
MPT: The concept of the industrial internet of things (IIoT) has become increasingly important to today’s business climate, but how would you best describe Building Management Systems (BMS), or Building Automation Systems (BAS), and what are their roles in increasing cybersecurity?
Idan Udi Edry: Building Management Systems are computer-based systems that control a building’s mechanical and electrical equipment. This equipment includes vital services such as heating and air-conditioning, power distribution, elevators, plumbing, security, fire safety and lighting. These BMS were designed with efficiency in mind, not cybersecurity, and thus have become susceptible to cyber-attack. The interface between the OT and IT systems is the most vulnerable location, where many hackers can enter and disrupt. This is why protecting the OT internally should be an organization’s top priority. Companies need security solutions that address the heightened vulnerabilities of BMS.
MPT: What are some solutions that can ensure the integrity of critical infrastructure, industrial operations and related IT networks in smart buildings/BMS?
Idan Udi Edry: At Nation-E, we’ve developed a comprehensive cybersecurity solution specifically catered to critical infrastructure, industrial systems and Building Management Systems. Our holistic, innovative approach focuses on the OT, its assets, and communications among them. This is a source of great vulnerability, and a common area for cyber-attacks. It includes a transparent security layer that monitors all OT data traffic, encrypts and authenticates asset communications, and enforces an access control and security policy on all protected machines. The system we’ve produced is an “add-on” system, which doesn’t require modifications to the existing OT infrastructure. With the vulnerabilities inherent in critical infrastructure, industrial systems and BMS, and with the ever-increasing number of cyberattacks in these industries, cybersecurity has never been more important. ◆