By Gregory Hale
There is a very diverse set of technologies that exist in the energy industry today, and while some of it may be the latest and greatest technology out there, a good bit of it, however, is most likely legacy and old.

In this increased age of connectivity, that means without a proper plan in place, along with the right technology, there could end up being stronger threat issues. Throw in the stronger work from home environment people are working in today, and that means security and visibility will become much more important.

That visibility not only has to see what is happening at a manufacturing facility, it has to be smart and be able to understand what is going on and react quickly to an ever changing attack surface.

There are energy facilities out there right now, pipelines and refineries and they are facing that increasing threat.

Schneider Bold

“What is different is they are increasingly connected digitized and insecure,” said Leo Simonovich, global head of industrial cybersecurity for Siemens. “Our critical infrastructure is exposed and has never been properly maintained. This is true of endpoint assets in the energy industry, many of which have not been patched post initial install. In the next 2 years, 2.5 billion industrial devices will come online in the energy industry. This will balloon and alter attack surfaces, which means an exploit bought on the web for $15.99 can cause extraordinary damage.”

That is one reason why SparkCognition and Siemens decided to collaborate on a cybersecurity system, DeepArmor Industrial, Fortified by Siemens designed to protect endpoint, or remote, operational technology (OT) assets across the energy value chain by employing artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor and detect attacks.

“It is not often a 170-year-old company and a 7-year-old company come together to address one of the most pressing problems in security and that is the defense of our critical infrastructure,” Simonovich said.

Simonovich pointed out why the issue hasn’t been addressed in the past because of:

  • Technical complexity
  • Domain expertise
  • Economics

“Sites are expensive to visit and not always connected digitally. Core infrastructure is exposed for days, week, and months at a time. For us, AI is the answer.

That is where the new AI-driven technology comes in.

“DeepArmor Industrial is trained for OT environments and OT attacks,” said Sridhar Sudarsan, chief technology officer for SparkCognition. “It gets ahead of increasingly sophisticated threats, it flags never been seen before threats, it recognizes user behaviors, system behaviors and finds anomalies and does this proactively.”

Sudrasan added the technology is agnostic of connectivity of assets or systems and it can work in partially connected and air-gapped environments.

“It uses AI and machine learning techniques and it optimizes these models for legacy systems in the environment to maximize the life of the assets,” Sudrasan said. “Manufacturers now face unknown vulnerabilities and sophisticated vulnerabilities after the fact. This can handle the issues head on.”

The AI-driven system uses next-generation antivirus, threat detection, application control, and Zero-Day attack prevention which allows for fleet level security monitoring and protection capabilities to the energy industry.

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