Honeywell a major key player in cybersecurity

Honeywell a major key player in cybersecurity

/ Technology & Smart Cities / Friday, 21 February 2020 12:29

Being present in a digital era, companies and organizations especially in the energy sector are looking for ways to secure their data and prevent the risks of cyberattacks. In an exclusive interview with Energy Review MENA, Ronnie Rahman, EMEA cybersecurity director at Honeywell elaborates more about the solutions Honeywell offers to answer companies security needs and talks about their latest innovations, the challenges faced in the industry and other key topics.

What are the solutions Honeywell offers to provide safety and security within the industry?

From a cybersecurity perspective, Honeywell has had over the last 15 years or so very focused cybersecurity consultancy. We've developed that because our clients needed cybersecurity support in their networks and their automation systems, and since we have such a strong legacy in that space, we developed cybersecurity capability whereby we have over 300 cybersecurity consultants globally. Everything can be done thanks to that consultancy organization from assessments all the way to remediation projects or any kind of security implementation that somebody is looking for.

We’re industrial-focused and that's a very important difference between us and other cybersecurity organizations. We provide operational technology cybersecurity (OT cybersecurity). We don't focus on the IT as much so we look at the process control networks in the automation systems and we secure those.

We also have what we call cybersecurity as a service. It is basically an outsource service where we monitor over 500 significant clients around the world 24/7. We look at every one of the cybersecurity controls and we measure them, then we report to the clients if there are any significant alerts. The infrastructure that we put in place is really important. We have three security operations centers around the world which run that system 24/7.

In addition, we built three cybersecurity labs around the world, one in Atlanta, the second in Singapore and we’re very happy to have built one in Dubai two years ago which we officially launched in 2019. That lab is a very sophisticated environment. We have entire networks and controllers that we can use to reproduce environments for our clients so they can come and test if they have new patches, new software or even malware. We use it to train our clients and teach them how to defend their networks in simulated attack and defense. It is a very multifunctional lab and we’re very happy to have one of those in Dubai.

On top of that, we have sealed partnerships with all of the key cybersecurity providers so we can provide all of the hardware and software that anybody would need in terms of cybersecurity systems. Then we created our own systems as well. That's where it got really interesting for us.

The number two cybersecurity threat generally in industrial facilities is USBs. They’re prolific because these are closed environments. You need a way to get data in and out with some kind of removable media, the USB. So we created our secure media exchange product which is a tablet that can scan USB sticks for malware. We have a cloud-based threat intelligence system called “Atix” (advanced threat intelligence exchange) which contains the knowledge and understanding to be able to scan for malware that may exist on those USBs. That particular product has won four prizes worldwide, among them the hydrocarbon prize.

Finally, the major solution we offer is called Honeywell Forge Cybersecurity Platform. It is really exciting for us because we are launching it in the Middle East. What it is designed to do is simplify cybersecurity management, strengthen cybersecurity posture, and provide a method for organizations to very easily scale their cybersecurity across one or many sites globally, managing the entire enterprise.

The platform allows you to use a single tool rather than having to use several which is why it is quite innovative. The information is displayed on a single screen, we call it “single pane of glass” and that gives operators and cybersecurity staff at the HQ all of the information they need at a single glance in a dashboard form to see what their cybersecurity posture is.

The other very innovative thing about it is the way that we do remote connections. Remote connections are extremely secure and they’re outbound only from sites. We sell this now with three different licensing models; one is a site only model for organizations who just want to manage a single site; another is remote connectivity model and the display at the HQ so that you can manage securely your remote connections; and the third one is the full software which can do asset inventory, remote connectivity and give you the alerting and monitoring that you need to manage the entire enterprise.

Forge Cybersecurity Platform is multi-vendor. As I mentioned, we have multi-controllers in the lab, we can support multi-vendors controllers with our platform and we can do very secure file transfer. For organizations that are seeking digitization and need to take their data out of their sites and into the HQ or maybe share it with partners or have it somewhere else for analysis, our cybersecurity platform is the answer, notably with the secure data transfer methods it offers.

What are the key challenges you've seen across the organizations that you work for?

We work for all of the most significant organizations as you can imagine in the oil and gas space. There are many key challenges. The first is a global challenge: a shortage of cybersecurity staff, and particularly in the OT space. So when our clients are going out trying to find staff so that they can put in place cybersecurity programs and systems, it's very hard to find the staff.

The second thing is that new threats are emerging every day. In the OT space, we've seen a significant increase in ransomware, targeted specifically at OT in addition to an increase in phishing. Moreover, very malicious and targeted attacks over the last few years have affected emergency shutdown systems thus creating a physical outcome in terms of damaging a plant significantly.

The third challenge is regulation. Cybersecurity is becoming more and more regulated certainly across Europe and the Middle East. Countries and organizations have put in place much stricter rules to guarantee adequate cybersecurity protection for critical infrastructure in particular which is very important.

Finally, the one that is fundamental to all industrial control system owners is complexity because ICS systems and plants are extremely complex environments. They have new systems, old systems, multiple vendors, etc.

Those really are the key challenges that we find and the reasons behind the development of and what we’ve built into the Forge Cybersecurity Platform aiming to address many of those concerns.

What are Honeywell’s future expansion plans and goals for 2020?

There are a couple of things we can mention. We've launched the Forge for Industrial platform. Obviously these are two very significant software platforms that enhance enterprise-wide management in industrial facilities.

What’s the future of the energy industry in terms of cybersecurity? Where do you see it in 5 years?

In the cyberspace, we've tried to simplify a very difficult challenge for organizations using technology by automating collection of key cybercontrols; creating a platform that allows information to help the clients strengthen their security posture – not only is it data, but it’s actionable insights of data that actually give them something that optimizes their systems – and promoting scalability because organizations, especially large oil and gas organizations, have geographically distributed assets. Those assets are only going to increase in numbers and complexity so finding a way of helping them scale as they grow with solutions and technology is very important.

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