Honeywell’s big push to industrial cybersecurity in India

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Mumbai: Honeywell, a global industrial automation player has emphasized on industrial cybersecurity in India. This is in response to the big IT (information technology) Systems shift that has been taking place in recent years across industries in India.

Process, Oil and Gas, Chemicals and Fertilizers and Manufacturing are some of industries that have rolled out big scale digital transformation and automation initiatives.

With the adoption of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), these industries are collecting data from systems, processes and devices. And then the collected data is used for analysis to improve business decisions.

Certainly, the IT Systems shift is driving business benefits for these industries. But it is also exposing them to unknown security threats and attacks.

Ashish Gaikwad

“Unfortunately, cybersecurity still remains a lesser known to some of these industries, making them highly vulnerable to a range of cyber incidents, breaches and malware threats,” Ashish Gaikwad, MD – Honeywell Automation India said during a media briefing recently in Mumbai.

The nature of such threats and attacks is powerful enough to easily cripple and lock down the critical infrastructure. This could even shutdown business operations for long periods, triggering huge financial losses and damage the business reputation.

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“These are parallel threats that cause damage to asset, target industrial installations as well as brand’s reputation. These are like cybercrimes,” Gaikwad added, citing the malicious cyberattack on Saudi Arabia’s national oil company – Aramco.

That’s the critical area of IT /OT (operational technology) security, commonly referred as ‘industrial cybersecurity’ which Honeywell has addressed with its portfolio offering. Honeywell Connected and Honeywell Connect Plant – are wide range of cloud based services and solutions that addresses the challenges of digitalization including the cybersecurity and cover.

In fact, Honeywell strengthened its industrial cybersecurity capabilities with the acquisition of an Israeli cybersecurity firm Nextnine in 2017.

According to Gaikwad, the Nextnine’s acquisition had two main objectives – interoperability and system agnostic.

“Typically, customers will have systems from multiple vendors and not just one supplier. So when they apply cybersecurity on top of these systems, the cybersecurity solution should able to cover the installed systems from multiple vendors and not just Honeywell’s,” he explained.

Further, “Nextnine as a company had to deal with multiple vendors and not just Honeywell. Their solutions would provide cybersecurity on Honeywell systems but also on our peers in the industry. And that’s what gives us the clear ability to become completely agnostic to what (systems) exists in the plants and go and provide cybersecurity solutions,” added Gaikwad.

Honeywell as a company is pushing the digital journey with connected devices, IIoT and other solutions.

“We as a responsible player, are giving equal focus on cybersecurity and this is not the general cybersecurity but the industrial cybersecurity, where the production and manufacturing assets, control systems are needed to be protected from such cyberattacks,” he emphasized.

However, in Gaikwad’s opinion, Honeywell as a company alone cannot solve the cybersecurity problem but requires joint efforts.

“So we are starting a dialogue with the stakeholders here, including the policy makers and regulating bodies, other technology providers like networks, communications and the end users to spread awareness and education on cybersecurity,” he said.

On the India front, Gaikwad claimed that Honeywell has taken a lead in the country by investing time, energy and R&D in cybersecurity.

“We as a country, I would say, India is a bit lucky country with no major attacks happened yet, although there were some incidents but not badly affected like other countries,” he concluded.

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