IBM and Cisco: Progress on Cyber Security, But Not Enough

At NIWeek earlier this month, executives from two tech heavyweights – Cisco and IBM – weighed in on the status of cyber security. Their conclusion? We’re making progress, but not enough. Both IBM and Cisco are deeply involved in developing cyber security defenses, both as individual companies and as founders of the Industrial Internet Consortium.

Paul Didier, industry solutions architect at Cisco Systems, noted that the increased attention on security is helping to focus solutions on the challenge, but there’s still ways to go. “This space is no longer being ignored. There is lot of good definition about what it means to have a secure area: validation, organization, and who you trust,” Didier told Design News. "But it’s just getting started. I’m looking for the industrial bodies to come up with security packages.”

MORE FROM DESIGN NEWS: Anatomy of a Cyber Security Assessment

Greg Gorman, director, product management with the Internet of Things at IBM, sees security as a problem with a number of facets -- each of which has be addressed individually and successfully. “It’s a huge challenge. We need multiple security software tools,” Gorman told Design News. We've been looking at people who are interested in approaching it from data and data analytics. We’re also looking for companies to do it on the chip level.”

Automakers Need a Defense Lesson

Gorman pointed to recent problems with car hacking as an example of the new difficulties in cyber security. He believes there are solutions from the defense industry that can be deployed by automotive companies. “It used to be you only had to fortify the door in a car. Now there are a lot of orifices,” said Gorman. “Certain critical functions in the car will have to be encrypted, just like in the defense industry. The carmakers know which of their systems can be entered. Now they need to be able to detect it when it’s not the right person entering. As a systems engineer, I see it as a systems problem.”

MORE FROM DESIGN NEWS: What Can Be Done about Car Hacking, or Is This the Future of Autos?

At Cisco, Didier sees the cyber security challenge growing with the increased connectivity that comes with the Internet of Things. The shift in greater connectivity not only creates more vulnerabilities, it also requires a more complex solution. “You have a lot of things talking to each other, so it needs to be more secure and more flexible,” said Didier.

Like many in the industrial space, he sees a need for greater cooperation between IT and operation teams. “IT and OT need to have a relationship. Cisco and IBM are both strong on IT security out of the box, but they have to do something about OT,” he said.

MORE FROM DESIGN NEWS: Industrial Cyber Security Requires Layered Approach

IBM is trying to address the challenge by creating an environment in which its partners and customers can work out security solutions. “We’re looking to build an ecosystem that people can innovate on,” said Gorman. “We can create that infrastructure and get participants to innovate while still operating within the bubble of their own brands.”

What do you think has to be done to speed up progress around cyber security? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 15 years, 12 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

[image source: iliana.info]

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