NexDefense: Safeguarding Industrial Control Networks

Matt Morris, VP, Strategy & Products
The oil and gas industry has undergone numerous boom and bust cycles over the years and the current status quo is increasing production and ensuring safety while achieving operational excellence. To this end, oil and gas organizations are deploying complex infrastructures and investing in digital technologies and Industrial IoT. Benefits aside, this has not only exposed the industry to a variety of cyberattacks that are growing in sophistication, but the lack of visibility into the industrial control system (ICS) is making them even more vulnerable. “Without precise knowledge of the status of critical systems, their interconnectivity, and the protocols used, organizations lose agility and responsiveness in the event of a failure,” says Matt Morris, VP, Strategy and Products, NexDefense. To overcome these challenges and realize operational excellence, organizations need an effective solution capable of visualizing and monitoring every aspect of their control system for rapid detection and remediation. Enhancing the effectiveness of production and safety, and monitoring the entire industrial control systems (ICS) environment is NexDefense. An established player in the IIoT and cybersecurity domain, NexDefense empowers ICS operators with a deep level of visibility and situational awareness, not only to visualize the highly-engineered controls systems but truly understand the assets, interconnections, and dataflow to enhance reliability, resilience, and safety.

To combat risks within the ICS, NexDefense has developed a groundbreaking software solution called Integrity—an industrial visualization and network anomaly detection system incorporating technology originally developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, Battelle Energy Alliance, and the cybersecurity experts of Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Integrity is further divided into Integrity Vision and Integrity Operations. With the help of Integrity Vision, organizations can discover and visualize all connected devices and communication channels across their environment. In addition, operators can also enjoy a continuous asset inventory and monitor the entire control system network activity in real time to assess network health, detect malicious activities, and verify configuration changes and updates.
Integrity also helps detect design flaws and misconfigurations in critical systems. Morris adds, “We provide a holistic view of underlying systems, without disturbing mission critical operations.”

We provide a situational awareness of underlying systems, without disturbing mission-critical operations

Meanwhile, the power of Integrity Operations lies in its ability to detect different types of anomalies that might disrupt operations within the environment. To achieve this, NexDefense utilizes a unique combination of both signature- and behavior-based security approaches. “We create a baseline of known devices, communication patterns, and network events, which help us identify unusual activity in a customer’s environment,” states Morris. Integrity Operations also alerts operators about situations and assets that might require attention, while triggering active protection within the control system.

Morris elucidates an instance where a large oil and gas company had a mixing process, driven by a distributed control system (DCS), and witnessed intermittent downtime. Upon engaging with the client, NexDefense analyzed the issues by examining the baseline environment, understanding how the process should look, and then passively observed activities in order to identify the offending issues that were responsible for disrupting the process. With the help of Integrity, NexDefense resolved the client’s issue by identifying the issue that impacted productivity and helped them maintain system and process integrity, saving millions of dollars in the process.

Looking to tomorrow, NexDefense is expecting continued rapid growth over the next 12 months to support its expanded US customer base as well as its rapidly expanding international presence. “We will continue to evolve our solution by enhancing our capabilities in areas that help our engineers, operators, and cybersecurity experts achieve their goals,” concludes Morris.


Atlanta, GA

Matt Morris, VP, Strategy & Products

Empowers industrial control system operators with the real-time information needed to improve system and process integrity and ensure cyber resiliency