Digital Connectivity Keynote - Marty Edwards of Dept. of Homeland Security @ ARC Orlando Forum 2017

By Larry O'Brien

Technology Trends

Marty Edwards, the lead-off keynote speaker at this year’s Forum, is the Director of Industrial Control Systems, Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) at the US Department of Homeland Security. Since this keynote, Marty has taken the job as Managing Director of the Automation Federation. 

Mr. Edwards began his talk by throwing out the hypothetical question: “We’re all going digital, but what is digital?” He went on to explain, that the definition of “digital” has changed since the old “3 to 15 psi days.” This referred to the pre-digital (and, in fact, largely pre-electronic) days when field devices in industrial plants often communicated their measurements to dedicated, single-loop pneumatic controllers via compressed air signals.

Back then, controllers weren’t connected to a network and “digital” literally referred to bits and bytes. Today, in contrast, “digital” often means “connected,” he explained. He provided one thought-provoking example of how connectivity has ramifications across multiple dimensions. In this case, a police department in the US had used data transmitted from a suspected arsonist’s pacemaker to monitor the suspect.

“Now that we’re connected, we have to start talking about security – because connectivity and security often don’t work well together, and an ‘air gap’ approach to security is no longer enough.” Here, of course, Mr. Edwards was referring to the physical and communications separation of the DCS or other critical process control components from other devices, systems, or networks.

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