Opportunities for Early Stage ISVs With Security Solutions for Industrial Process Control Systems

The second quarter, 2013 ICS-Cert Monitor Report from the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security reports on Brute Force Attacks on Internet-Facing Control Systems. The report notes a highly significant increase in the number of these attacks. “In fiscal year 2012, ICS-CERT responded to 198 cyber incidents across all critical infrastructure sectors. Of these, 41% were in the energy sector compared to all other sectors.” But “[I]n the first half of fiscal year 2013, (October 1, 2012–May 2013), ICS-CERT has responded to over 200 incidents across all critical
infrastructure sectors. The highest percentage of incidents reported to ICS-CERT occurred in the energy sector at 53%.” (all quotes are excerpted from the second quarter 2013 ICS-Cert Monitor Report published by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security. A link to this report has been provided above).

Early stage ISVs with off-the-shelf solutions for control systems data security should be looking at a highly motivated market for the remainder of 2013, 2014, and even 2015. The solutions market participants need must safeguard Ethernet networks and applications written for web browsers.

Early stage systems integrators will not likely share the benefit from this market trend. A combination of a requirement for firms with high level security clearances, and the traditional purchase behavior of businesses in this market (they tend to all use the same systems integration resources), will put a damper on the potential return for systems integrators.

We think there is also an opportunity in this market trend for computer hardware vendors. A lot of control systems operators will be looking for hardened terminals–thin clients without local hard drives or ports for peripherals.

The increase in the number of attacks on networked data communication systems was likely matched, or exceeded by the number of control systems operators implementing Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud offers. In our opinion we think this market is experiencing double digit growth, year over year. Cost savings simply trump security concerns for heavily regulated energy providers, exploration companies, and other public utilities.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Moving Beyond Synchronized Traffic Lights — the City of Los Angeles Implements an Intelligent Stop Light System

Vehicular management is a huge requirement in the United States (US). Per the US Department of Transportation Statistics, in 2011 a total of approximately 248 million vehicles were registered across all States included in the US. Stop lights are an important component of most vehicular management systems. But, up to now, most stop light systems neither included sensors, nor the computing intelligence to manage them and do something with the data they can produce.

Colin Berry, a reporter for the California Report wrote an article last month, Groundbreaking System Aims to Ease L.A.’s Traffic Woes. The enhancements made to Los Angeles’ Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control System (ATSAC), noted in Mr. Berry’s article, are the first evidence we’ve located of a major vehicular management system implemented by a public entity with the required device intelligence, and Human Machine Interface (HMI) to really change how vehicles navigate densely populated areas. We think the ATSAC system will produce substantial benefits for the entire community of Los Angeles County, including:

  • Better aggregate gas consumption patterns for the vehicles traveling through Los Angeles’ new stop light control system
  • Substantially better reconnaissance capability for first responders needing to quickly identify, locate, and monitor specific vehicles as they traverse the city streets
  • Streamlined commuting patterns with likely reductions in the amount of time required to get from specific points to destination

Mr. Berry’s broad depiction of the system, which uses a loop induction method to measure and monitor changes in key traffic statistics, including vehicle volume, speed, etc., was impressive. “Based on data from the loop detectors, a proprietary algorithm developed by ATSAC determines demand on a given intersection. Then, based on time of day or scheduled events like a Lakers game or the Academy Awards, it can modify a signal’s timing in order to move traffic along.” (quoted from Mr. Berry’s article, a link to which has been provided above) This proprietary algorithm may present ISVs with an opportunity to develop firmware and systems at the application layer to complement what ATSAC has already built.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved