Smart Infrastructure Systems Tempt Cyber Attackers

Our water, energy and other critical infrastructure systems are becoming smarter, more sophisticated and more digitized. Unfortunately, this also makes them more vulnerable to more frequent and sophisticated cyber threats. Ayyeka’s CTO Yair Poleg explains how infrastructure can be protected in this brave new world.
The battles of the future will be fought, at least partially, in the cyber arena. Critical water and energy infrastructure are the ultimate targets for cyber attackers. Unfortunately, we are poorly positioned at present to prevent them.

We may not hear about them in the general news news every day, but the number of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure is growing. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2015 report on cyber security, “the number of reported security incidents rose 48 percent this year to 42.8 million – which is the equivalent of 117,339 attacks per day.” Governments may prefer to limit coverage of such attacks to prevent fear among the general public, but there is no question attacks are on the rise.

Advanced technology is a double-edged sword

Why is this the case? Systems are becoming more digitized and more advanced, making them more efficient, but also more vulnerable to cyber attacks. As Michael Assante wrote in Forbes: “America’s critical infrastructure—the utilities, refineries, military defense systems, water treatment plants and other facilities on which we depend every day—has become its soft underbelly, the place where we are now most vulnerable to attack.”

Yair Poleg, CTO of Ayyeka, a provider of remote monitoring kits for smart infrastructure networks, explains more in depth why this is the case: “Infrastructure companies are increasingly depending on remote monitoring. They are protecting their centers – or to use professional jargon, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems – but it is simply impossible to provide physical protection for the multitide of systems in the field. So really, any feeling of security that comes with protecting only the SCADA systems is not complete without protection of the endpoints.”

Cybersecurity must be a priority

One step towards improving the protection of critical infrastructure is more stringent government regulation, and this trend is indeed unfolding, according to Poleg. But most infrastructure companies need to place cyber security at the top of their list of priorities.

Ayyeka has already taken this step. The company’s founding team emerged from Unit 8200, the elite cyber defense unit in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that has bred some of the world’s most advanced cybersecurity technologies. “In Israel, cyber protection is fundamental,” explains Poleg. “We placed cybersecurity as a top priority in our solutions from day one.”

The company’s patent pending remote monitoring kits provide systems that are inherently secure. “Since it is impossible to physically fence in hundreds or thousands of remote monitoring sites in a network, the only real solution is to choose a solution that provides inherent cyber protection,” concludes Poleg.

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