Safety and Security Imperatives of Digital Transformation

Author photo: Dick Slansky and Sharada Prahladrao
ByDick Slansky and Sharada Prahladrao
Technology Trends

Digital transformation was the central theme at the ARC Industry Forum in Orlando.  And when we talk about the connectivity that digitalization facilitates, the safety and security aspects emerge as  imperatives.  ARC’s Dick Slansky, Senior Analyst, discussed security at the processing level with David Sequino, President INTEGRITY Security Services (ISS), Green Hills Software.  You can watch the video here and/or on YouTube.

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Leveraging the Digital Transformation Trend

Talking about the company, David said that ISS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Green Hills Software, a company that provides a provisioning platform and a security platform for Edge to cloud.  “So, we are part of the foundational layer of digital transformation.”

Edge Devices and Solutions

Dick asked about the types of Edge devices and solutions that the company offers.  Or solutions that enable other products to operate on the Edge.

David explained that the company is laser focused on safety critical applications, such as critical infrastructure.  This covers the gamut of control systems for safety critical applications: for oil fields, gas fields, water treatment plants; medical and consumer devices; and all the electronic controller units in the automotive space.

Key Initiatives Going Forward

The company provides a complete secure IoT  provisioning  and management service from the enterprise network to the Cloud to the IoT devices with their flagship product, Device Lifecycle Management (DLM).  This has got three modules:

  • DLM Trust, which is the security module to provision the device with a “birth certificate”
  • Device Management, for over the air (OTA) updates
  • Supply Chain Management

Further, David explained that each of these modules has DLM dashboards.  This allows them to take data off the Edge in an authenticated manner, “because everything we do starts with security.”

What about Blockchain?

Blockchain is a hot topic right now, said David.  The prevailing use case for Blockchain is clearly currency, and the company sees the opportunity for it.  “But, our deal in platform is a public key platform and a symmetric key platform, so every single code signing application we do for moving a digital asset (cloud-Edge or Edge- cloud) is designed to be hashed and timestamped, very similar to the technology around Blockchain, but we also use public key to ensure the people sending it are also authenticated.  So, we sort of see the DLM platform as Blockchain on steroids in an operational format that people can use,” said David.

Cybersecurity Requirements for Safety and Security

Cybersecurity requirements continue to increase at all levels, in industrial automation and at the enterprise markets. “How is your company responding with new products and solutions and partnerships in this area?” asked Dick.

At this point, the company is carefully picking its customers, said David.  The focus is on safety critical and security critical applications.  The company is moving into the aerospace and defense market where, historically, they've used traditional ways of protection (guns and big fences) and people that have worked at the companies for years.  “Now they are realizing that's not enough.”

Another major challenge is bringing people into the organization and teaching them what needs to be done.  And that is also the customer's challenge: there aren’t enough people that understand cybersecurity from an embedded perspective.

Avoiding Unplanned Downtime

Unplanned downtime is a challenge for every customer.  David said, “Everything that we do in our DLM platform is done in a redundant manner and has high availability.  We do very high-volume provisioning (over a billion devices a year) at the semiconductor level.  And, having a semiconductor product line go down is a real challenge for our customers.  We do disaster recovery, we have test, production, and pre-production networks.”  Further, he said that depending upon the application and the volume, they ensure that the DLM platform can scale.  

Advanced Analytics

Most manufacturers seek advanced analytics solutions, such as predictive and prescriptive analytics, to sort through the endless amounts of data and convey that into actionable information.  “What advanced analytics solutions does your company offer, and is it being incorporated into other products and solutions that your company offers?” asked Dick.

David responded that the company’s DLM dashboard is a feature on top of the DLM platform.  This provides security, device management, supply chain management, and then dashboards for stratifying the data.  “Because, in some cases, you might want one group of people to see certain data, which is not visible to another group, but without DLM Trust to digitally sign and tie it to users, you wouldn't be able to create those silos of trust.  So that's what we are doing.”


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