New system helps defend critical infrastructure from attack

Industrial computer system

Critical infrastructure such as water and power supplies is a prime target for hackers, but is often run using aging systems that weren't designed for the internet era.

Remote access specialist Dispel is launching a new Secure Remote Access platform that helps to protect these systems while at the same time allowing remote access for authorized users to carry out essential maintenance.

It's designed so that even if the end system has vulnerabilities, attackers have no way to remotely access it. The technology is designed to be deployed on IoT ecosystems, manufacturing plants, and utilities.

It uses a virtual infrastructure that allows operators to create and destroy access pathways on demand via temporary virtual machines. This means that hackers are presented with a moving target as there's no fixed address for them to latch onto. It also means it's easier to give one-time remote access to third-parties such as contractors with the option of a single-use virtual desktop.

"Industrial control systems are often built with 30-year lifespans and they weren't built to be connected to the internet," says Ethan Schmertzler CEO and co-founder of Dispel. "We have a hardware box that connects to the same network as the ICS and we create a bridge so you can connect to the Dispel device as though you're on site."

Using Dispel an operator can connect to a remote site in under 30 seconds. The technology also provides extra reassurance with end-to-end encryption and multi-factor authentication along with security and monitoring to keep a record of activity.

"If I'm an attacker that wants to take control of the ICS, instead of having a static target that I can investigate all the time, this technology means it's always changing so I have to constantly expend effort trying to locate the address and environment and determine how I want to break in, and all the work I've done becomes useless every couple of hours,” adds Schmertzler.

The technology is already employed at major clients including Connecticut Water. You can find out more on the Dispel website.

Image credit: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

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