Thwarting Cyber Threats

Nov. 14, 2014

How should companies better protect themselves against cyber threats? 

An earlier blog entry, "Siemens Opens Cyber Security Operations Center," describes why the company decided to open the center, and includes remarks from Siemens executives and industry thought leaders about the importance of monitoring and thwarting the rapidly growing onslaught of cyber threats. Here is the rest of the article.

So, how should companies better protect themselves against cyber threats? According to Brett Wahlin, VP and global CISO, Hewlett Packard, this should be a board-level discussion. "It's an inefficient model to have an operation center to use intelligence and analytics along with IT functions such as firewalls to forestall attacks. How else can we view the problem? There are millions of end points in the form of robots, locomotives, cars, and more, so we must build out the cyber defense center (CDC) in context of ever-expanding endpoints. We also need to expand on what the cyber security operations center external to Siemens does to account for the end points. It is necessary to include assets like supply chains and SCADA systems."

According to Wahlin, in the future, company personnel are more likely to become adversaries, either on purpose or by inadvertently clicking on a link. HP is gathering data from its social media links to understand which groups are angry about how the company conducts business to identify potential adversaries.

In addition, companies such as Intel are building security into its microprocessors and microchips. Lori Wigle, VP, security solutions, Intel Corp. explains that Intel acquired MacAfee and integrated the two into a service called Intel Security because there is a two to five year window to address the cyber threat challenge and many companies need prodding for a sense of urgency. "Attacks can happen by denying service, stealing data, monitoring and manipulating data, and most onerous, 'owning and obliterating' data. To add to the mix, the Maker Movement, which opens manufacturing to almost anyone, is merging with industrial environments."

Wigle explains that the marriage of McAfee, a division of Intel Security, and Siemens represents an IT-OT convergence. "Industry has 25 years of experience with IT security. This must now be merged with operational transformation (OT) technology that supports a range of collaboration functions in advanced software systems."

In the near future, 85% of manufacturing will be connected to the IoT reports Raj Batra, president, Digital Factory, Siemens USA. "We need to make some customers aware that they are even being attacked, as well as figure out how to address the legacy automation systems that have been out there for 40 to 50 years. The solution must be holistic because cybersecurity is an ever evolving task where 40% is better than 0%."

The Siemens Cyber Security Operations Center has kind of a "war room" atmosphere. It is a working cyber protection center comprising think tanks, briefing rooms where customers can learn about the cyber landscape, and lots of white board space to support a collaborative environment. The idea is to pool data and make it all actionable, by either providing appliances to pull meta data back to perform analytics, or perform a lot of analytics in the field, eliminating the need for a lot of data to move back and forth.

According to a Siemens spokesperson, the first customer engagements will happen soon. The center is currently in a beta phase of providing managing services.