By Gregory Hale
Issues surrounding manufacturers continue to reverberate from trying to get disparate systems to work together to provide unified data that will allow a plant to run smoothly and efficiently. Plus, on top of that they must be secure from the ever increasing cyber threat inherent with today’s open systems.

Security provider Industrial Defender today is taking on that challenge with its new software product for operators of automation systems, including NERC CIP-affected power utilities.

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Automation Systems Manager (ASM) integrates asset management, event management, configuration change management, policy compliance, endpoint security, and reporting. ASM significantly reduces security vulnerabilities, operational overhead, human error and, ultimately, system outages of SCADA, energy management and other automation-related environments, said Brian Ahern, chief executive at Industrial Defender.

“We are addressing issues beyond just security,” Ahern said. “We made a decision to address a functional strategy to a unified platform. We want a unified approach across a disparate array of systems. We worked very closely with our customers on a platform-agnostic, unified view of their complex environments.”

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The new platform allows for change management enabling users to address workflow, cost efficiency and sustainable processes to meet their goals.

“Our research shows that as organizations expand their automation systems and upgrade them with new technologies, overlaps emerge in areas such as security and compliance,” said Pike Research Senior Analyst Bob Lockhart. “Solutions that can successfully integrate presently separate and duplicative functions can deliver a range of benefits, including reduced operating expenses, lower risk, greater efficiency and reduced complexity.”

ASM is available in three software editions: Monitor, Manage and Protect:
Monitor – Provides event data collection from disparate industrial endpoints and includes centralized event logging, correlation and archiving. It provides consolidation of log data for analysis and forensics, a customizable dashboard, and offers fast, agent-less deployment.

Manage – Integrates asset management, configuration change management, policy management and compliance reporting with automated data collection and verification tools. It also includes all of the functionality in the Monitor solution.

Protect – Provides application whitelisting and host intrusion prevention system (HIPS) capabilities to protect control systems form rogue applications and malware. It includes all of the functionality of the Manage solution.

This package does integrate separate and duplicative functions and can reduce expenses, lower risk, increase efficiency and reduce complexity, but it also gives a potential new tact to take on how to introduce security into a discussion.

“When you talk about security, it is viewed as an insurance policy and when you talk about compliance it is view as a tax,” Ahern said. “This addresses security as a program across all assets. If you bring in the management discussion — how you manage the process, people and expense – then you can come up with a formula to create actionable items.”
Gregory Hale is editor and founder of

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