As concerns about Internet of things (IoT) cybersecurity continue to mount, money to address these issues is starting to pour in from investors. CyberX, a provider of a platform for securing industrial networks, revealed it has picked up an additional $18 million in funding, which brings the total funding poured into CyberX this far up to $48 million.
Phil Neray, vice president of industrial cybersecurity at CyberX, said that level of funding reflects how important it has become to secure critical infrastructure such as power plants, which increasingly are being targeted by hackers launching attacks using, for example, the WannaCry malware. Because many of those hackers are working on behalf of any number of nation-states that provide access to almost inexhaustible resources, many of the entities that manage these environments are simply being overwhelmed, he said.
CyberX is trying to level that playing field, Neray said, by providing a threat detection analytics platform that relies on machine learning algorithms to reduce the amount of cybersecurity expertise required to discover advanced malware. The CyberX approach not only eliminates the need to deploy agent software on every IoT endpoint, it’s also the only cybersecurity platform destined specifically to work within industrial networks that rely on specialized protocols such as Modbus and DNP3, and specialized industrial control system (ICS) devices such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and human machine interfaces (HMIs).
CyberX claims it is the only the only company to be awarded a patent covers unique methods and systems for learning ICS network behavior and identifying anomalous activities. CyberX makes use of finite-state machine (FSM) modeling techniques to analyze ICS environments and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.
Neray said that in the wake of cybersecurity attacks such as WannaCry, cybersecurity professionals are now playing a much larger role in securing ICS networks, largely because the operational technology (OT) professionals who manage these networks tend to lack cybersecurity expertise. The challenge is, organizations that rely on industrial control systems are employing platforms that are several years old. As such, many of the controls that IT organizations have put in place over the years are absent on those devices. Many of these systems, for example, might have a firewall installed, but anti-virus software is generally absent because there isn’t enough compute capacity available on these systems to run agent software. Nevertheless, as part of the shift to IoT, many of these devices increasingly are being attached to industrial networks, which in turn are also being integrated with traditional IT networks.
The good news that after cybersecurity in industrial environment has been neglected for years, there’s a lot more awareness of the potential problem. Of course, the degree of urgency attached to solving this problem differs widely by organization. In fact, there’s likely to be one or two more high-profile attacks before most organizations are able to marshal the resources required to secure every IoT device attached to a network.
In the meantime, cybersecurity professionals are likely once again to find themselves in the all-too-familiar position of adding layers of cybersecurity to IoT environments long after they have been deployed in a production environment.