Industrial Cyber Security evolution

Verve’s OT Cyber Security Solution: A Quarter Century in Review

John Livingston

Some like to begin a new year with a reflection of the past year. Since we are at the end of a decade, there are some reflections on the past decade. But at Verve, we are celebrating our 25th year in business. We are reflective of this quarter century mark and thankful to our clients, teammates and partners as we embark on the second quarter of our hundred-year journey.

The evolution of ICS

Over the past 25 years, we have seen a significant evolution of industrial control systems (ICS) as well as how to ensure their reliability, efficiency and security:

  • increasing presence of commodity IT as well as recent virtualization and cloud efforts
  • increasing importance of IP networking, routing, and network design and management
  • growth in "connected assets" starting with basic SCADA and evolving through the explosion of data historians and now to "IIOT" and AI powering advanced analytics on this data
  • growing gap in skills between traditional OT/process control experts and the new IT-based systems such as Windows admin, switch and firewall admin, software management and user/privileged account management
  • increasing threats to unmanaged and unprotected systems which weren't designed for exposure to threat actors but are now more and more connected to corporate IT systems

These changes are real, and you can see them evolve over time. But they do take a long time to mature as the pace of change in ICS is slower than most industries. This is the benefit of a 25-year view. You can do a much better job of separating hype from reality and understand how changes need to occur to be practical in this environment.

 

Responding to the changing needs of our OT cyber security customers

Over these past 25 years, although our fundamental north star of Premier client service hasn't changed at all, much of how and what we do to achieve that client impact has. The evolution has occurred in some more mundane areas such as our name (formerly RKNeal) but more significantly in the responding to changing needs of clients.

First, building off our deep roots in ICS design and programming, we have built the leading OT security management platform, the Verve Security Center (VSC). This investment over the past decade transformed the way we serve our clients. It embeds the asset management that is so critical to secure, reliable and efficient operations into an easy to use software platform.

Second, our services team now not only helps design systems but uses VSC to improve existing designs and configuration as well as manage the security and reliability on an ongoing basis. This team has evolved to add more security, compliance and managed services capabilities to help our clients close the huge skill gaps that exist.

 

Verve's 2019 accomplishments

The results of this evolution have been nothing short of astounding. Just in the past year alone, Verve has:

  • increased our new customer introduction by 5x
  • expanded assets under management by 3x
  • helped clients remediate tens of thousands of vulnerabilities and configuration errors, at least doubling their cyber security maturity
  • all leading to an increase in bookings of 3x 

We are excited and thankful as we embark on the beginning of our next quarter century. We know that our deep experience in OT will remain a key need in the world. We have the opportunity to continue to expand our unique training and apprenticeship programs to expand that capability. We will stay true to our belief in delivering comprehensive solutions for our clients rather than silo'd products and widgets, as we believe this is the right long-term focus.

Threats will continue to grow, but it's imperative for productivity and innovation, that we mature the world's OT security operations so that these threats don't hold us back from the necessary innovations. We will continue to be a partner for our clients to help them find the balance between design for defense and innovation.

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