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Boeing 777 Plant Security Tool Extends To IoT

A secure network technology built for Boeing and later commercialized is evolving and under a new company name.

A security startup that spun out of Boeing has changed its name and expanded the scope of its ICS security technology to help lock down Internet of Things (IoT) things.

Tempered Networks -- formerly known as Asguard Networks -- this week announced a name change and the addition of F5 Networks founder Jeff Hussey as its new president and CEO. Hussey joins former Boeing R&D lead David Mattes whose team built a security prototype for robotics tools used in the manufacture of the Boeing 777, in six Boeing factories and across 300 endpoints.

"David was involved in Boeing R&D and was asked to solve the problem of securing the 777 production line in Seattle. It was the target of state-sponsored cyber espionage and constantly under attack, and they needed to solve that," Hussey says.

Mattes, who co-founder and CTO of Tempered Networks, later took the secure networking product commercial as Asguard -- with Boeing's blessing and new role as his customer. "This technology is still in use at Boeing. We can secure the industrial edge [with it] and by extension, the Internet of Things," Hussey says.

Mattes says Tempered Networks' Host Identity Protocol (HIP) network appliance, based on industry protocols, basically adds cryptographic identification to all communications flows. It builds a secure communications channel among devices in a sensitive environment such as a power plant, for example. "You start to carve up a large network to small communities that can be managed closely," he says.

"The attacks we see, there's no way to know who or where they are coming from and who your trusted peers are," he says. "They are all based on identifiers that can be spoofed … There's very little security in [the industrial network] world, and products are vulnerable by design."

The technology basically superimposes identity and trust into those networks. That helps with remote access as well, a big security challenge for the plant environment. This architecture also helps with inherently insecure IoT devices and networks, according to company officials.

The Seattle-based firm boasts customers in the manufacturing, oil & gas, and utilities industries. A petroleum company uses the technology to segment its process network, for instance, and a power utility is isolating its metering equipment with it.

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