Will this Israeli startup be able to rise to the top of the emerging critical infrastructure cybersecurity industry? It’s a real possibility
Cyber attacks on entertainment giant Sony and “entertainment” giant Ashley Madison have been grabbing many headlines this year, but they are hardly the most likely customers for major data security. Critical infrastructure managers are trying to keep up with the digital age and the skills of possible hackers or cyber warriors to go after a country’s increasingly computer-dependent infrastructure.
This is where a company like ICS² comes in, one of the ten companies participating in the Geektime Conference‘s Startup Arena pitch competition on Wednesday. Many operator control systems have no real tools to identify computational anomalies during system monitoring. When these anomalies are found, they are often detected well after they begin damaging operations and tend to cause massive or prolonged service delays to be fixed. If those systems were under concentrated attack, it would be extremely difficult to do repairs at the same time it would need to defend the system from further sabotage.
ICS² allows early detection for abnormalities, delivers real-time alerts, and offers rapid response. Once installed, their solution uses a machine learning algorithm to get in tune with a plant’s routine and understanding when an irregularity is a little too irregular. If it does detect a problem, it sends an alert to system administrators.
Fiction becomes reality
Hollywood has already picked up on the emerging threat of cyber warfare to infrastructure in the 2007 flick Live Free or Die Hard. Russia was credited with the first mass application of cyber warfare when it went to war against Georgia in 2008. The once fantastical threat is indeed very real.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) neatly identifies 16 specific subsectors of critical infrastructure that likely apply across all borders, including communications, agriculture, the chemical sector, energy, transportation, and water. A survey earlier this year by The Aspen Institute and Intel Security showed most people want more cooperation between public and private sectors to protect that infrastructure from cyber attacks, which U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called his country’s greatest threat moving forward.
However, they have major competition from corporate titans like Siemens and Schneider, plus security firms like Palo Alto Networks and Tofino.
“What is common to all solutions is that they’re based on identifying attacks from the outset,” VP of Sales Omri Green told Geektime. “Our solution knows how to identify attacks in advance thanks to advanced mathematical algorithms that we developed.”
Initial funding came from their parent company BrightSource, but the team is in the midst of a new funding round that could rake in another $5-8 million. The company moved quickly between its first testing in 2014 to offering its solution on the open market in 2015. The system is designed for major installations like water desalination hubs, chemical plants, oil refineries, and the like.
“Many of our customers in Israel are water, gas, energy, and desalination companies. A water resources company recently signed a partnership agreement with us.”
According to Green, the company is already bringing in revenue and expects to line up new clients this year from the U.S., Israel, and Japan.
The team came together from the staff at BrightSource Energy and have dealt with a number of industrial control systems, including DCS, PLC, HMI, MES, and SCADA. The staff is equipped with big data experts with experience in machine learning and computer vision.
ICS² was founded in 2013 by CEO Gil Kroyzer and CTO Eyal Rozenman. Omri Green serves as VP of Sales. The team keeps its headquarters in Jerusalem.