Siemens has partnered with cybersecurity software company Awen Collective to develop a new, accessible and affordable, managed OT security solution for SMEs.
The project has secured major backing from a consortium of North West-based organisations including the University of Manchester, the University of Salford, the North West Cyber Resilience Centre, BRIM and IN4.0 Group, who will support the project as it rolls out in the region, before looking to expand across the rest of the UK.
The collaboration will allow Lancashire businesses to buy into a managed security solution, protecting any networked, internet-connected technology starting from £10,000. Ordinarily, setting up and maintaining a security operations centre can cost a business hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The solution is built on Awen Collective’s Dot software, which has been developed with the support of Siemens, and performs asset and vulnerability discovery on operational technology (OT), which covers everything from coffee machines to large industrial robots, including ICS, SCADA and IIoT systems.
According to the UK Government: Cybersecurity Breaches Survey 2022 half of small businesses (48%) and six in 10 medium-sized businesses (59%) report having been impacted by some kind of cyber breach or attack in the last 12 months.
Digitalisation and the growing networking of machines and industrial systems also mean that operational technology (OT) is at an increased risk of cyber attack. Indeed, new cybercrime incidents are reported every day by UK businesses.
Despite this, many SMEs do not prioritise cybersecurity support, thinking that they either cannot afford it or do not need it.
Paul Hingley, Product Solution & Security Officer UK and Ireland for Siemens Digital Industries, said: “Siemens has been working with the North West Cyber Resilience Centre since its conception. We as an industry have partnered with law enforcement and academia as such alliances are vital to the way the digital industry will evolve in the years to come.
“Cybersecurity sits at the centre of digital transformation, understanding and adoption of it into the industrial control concepts is a must now.
“Partnering with Awen and the consortium we will answer some of the concerns and challenges around cybersecurity the industry faces by delivering an IT and OT Operational Response Centre. This will enable SMEs to invest in a service that will provide cyber alarms when their control systems become compromised by cyber-attacks.
“The concept we have developed with the consortium has the potential to provide low-cost protection across the office and manufacturing space. It is a unique offering that will allow companies to build their cyber resilience while developing their business impact knowledge – a major step forward in improving the cyber maturity of our UK industry.”
Daniel Lewis, founder and Executive Chairman at Awen Collective, based in Wales, said: “Our software solutions reflect what the market is telling us. No single product is a ‘silver bullet’ – we must genuinely work together.
“We are very pleased to be building this partnership with Siemens to deliver quality solutions that help prevent the very real threat of cybercrime. In essence, we’re giving industrial organisations the capability to discover vulnerabilities that they may not have been aware that they had, and the tools to do something about them.
“Cybersecurity in Wales is thriving. We’re growing a strong community through one of the largest clusters in the UK and it has really laid the foundation for us to be able to work on major projects such as this, with forward-thinking businesses like Siemens. We can’t wait for what’s to come.”
Katie Gallagher, managing director of Manchester Digital and co-founder of North West Cyber Resilience Centre, said: “We’re really pleased to partner with Siemens and Awen Collective to be able to offer this new OT security solution to businesses across the North West.
“There are increasingly sophisticated threats to cyber security within operational technology so we will continue to work with businesses and our partners to help all businesses protect themselves against cyber attacks.
“Businesses often don’t realise the potentially devastating effects of a cyber attack on their business until it’s too late, so our work begins at educating businesses owners around the threats, as well as offering advice and security solutions.”
David Taylor, Chief Technology Officer, IN4.0 Group, said: “As specialists in Industry 4.0 technologies IN4.0 Group are delighted to be a key part of this consortium, helping to address the issues faced when securing OT environments. The cyber security threat landscape is constantly changing with new vulnerabilities discovered each day, staying on top of these vulnerabilities is vital.
“Threats to industrial control systems and the OT environment do not just result in the loss of data, they can halt production, impact the safety of employees, and even result in death. With a strong background in cyber security and our own UK based Security Operation Centres we are now best placed to provide a cost-effective solution that not only helps businesses to secure their IT but their OT environments as well.”