Honeywell's new industrial cyber security solution
Honeywell's Secure Media Exchange (SMX) provides hassle-free, multi-layered protection for managing USB security, letting users simply plug in and check devices for approved use in the facility.
On 5 April 2017, Honeywell announced a new solution for industrial sites looking to balance their productivity and cyber security demands.
Secure Media Exchange (SMX) protects facilities against current and emerging USB-borne threats, without the need for complex procedures or restrictions that impact operations or industrial personnel. The announcement coincides with the launch of Honeywell’s 2017 Middle East Industrial Cyber Security Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE, recently. Continuing with events in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman during April, the summits will highlight the increasing focus on cyber security across the region and globally.
The Middle East cyber security market size is expected to grow from US$11.38 billion in 2017 to US$22.14 billion by 2022. This is due to the increasing number of cyber incidents in the region resulting in more focus on implementing advanced technology to combat the threats.
Safdar Akhtar, business development director, industrial cyber security for EMEA and Asia at Honeywell Process Solutions commented: “The launch of SMX is an important milestone in combatting cyber threats in the region and globally. The Honeywell 2017 Middle East Industrial Cyber Security Summit provides a perfect platform for this important launch, and will help inform industry stakeholders on the latest trends and technologies in industrial cyber security. With a long-standing presence in the region spanning six decades, we are committed to protecting the safety and reliability of critical infrastructure and deploying advanced industrial cyber security solutions across the region.”
Malware spread through USB devices – used by employees and contractors to patch, update and exchange data with onsite control and computer systems – is a key risk for industrial control systems. It was the second leading threat to these systems in 2016, according to BSI publications, and uncontrolled USBs have taken power plants offline, downed turbine control workstations, and caused raw sewage floods, among other industrial accidents.
“Industrial operators often have hundreds or thousands of employees and dozens of contractors on site every day,” said Eric Knapp, cyber security chief engineer, HPS. “Many, if not most, of those rely on USB-removable media to get their jobs done. Plants need solutions that let people work efficiently, but also do not compromise cyber security and, with it, industrial safety,” added Knapp.
Currently, many plants either ban USBs, which is difficult to enforce and significantly reduces productivity, or rely on traditional IT malware scanning solutions, which are difficult to maintain in an industrial control facility and provide limited protection. These systems fail to protect process control networks against the latest ICS threats, and offer no means to address targeted or zero-day ICS attacks.
Honeywell’s SMX was developed by the company’s cyber security experts based on field experience across global industrial sites and feedback from Honeywell User Group customers. Honeywell has one of the largest industrial cyber security research capabilities in the process industry, including an advanced cyber security lab near Atlanta. Honeywell also partners with cyber security leaders, including Microsoft, Intel Security and Palo Alto Networks, among others, to develop new, highly-effective industrial threat detection techniques.
Honeywell’s SMX provides hassle-free, multi-layered protection for managing USB security, letting users simply plug in and check devices for approved use in the facility. Contractors ‘check-in’ their USB drive by plugging it into an SMX Intelligence Gateway. The ruggedised industrial device analyses files using a variety of techniques included with Honeywell’s Advanced Threat Intelligence Exchange (ATIX), a secure, hybrid-cloud threat analysis service.
SMX Client Software installed on plant Windows devices provides another layer of protection, controlling which USB devices are allowed to connect, preventing unverified USB removable media drives from being mounted, and stopping unverified files from being accessed. SMX also logs USB device connectivity and file access, providing a valuable audit capability.
“For most plants, the proliferation of removable media and USB devices is unavoidable, but the security risks they bring do not have to be,” observed Knapp. “We know our customers have limited resources to maintain another system, so Honeywell manages SMX for them. SMX never connects to our customers’ process control networks. From a system administration perspective, it is like it is not even there,” concluded Knapp.
Managed and maintained directly by Honeywell, SMX provides the easy and secure solution to USB security in industrial plants. It helps prevent the spread of malware through removable media; stops unverified files being read by Windows hosts; and, through the private ATIX connection, provides continually updated threat information and advanced analytics to help detect advanced, targeted, and zero-day malware.