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Podcast: Episode #4 - A Roundtable Discussion with Industrial Defender Leaders

January 18, 2023

This week on the PrOTect OT podcast, we meet with a few members of the Industrial Defender leadership team. In this episode we hear from Jay Williams, CEO, Alex Bagwell, chief revenue officer, and Gabe Authier, chief product officer about what Industrial Defender has in store for the new year and beyond.  Here is a quick excerpt of our discussion. To learn more, be sure to listen to the full episode and subscribe to the PrOTect OT Cybersecurity Podcast.

Aaron: Jay, what’s the history of Industrial Defender?

Jay Williams: Industrial Defender was started in 2006, and we were truly the pioneer of OT cybersecurity software tools. Industrial Defender was the originator of the term defense and depth, and it was trademarked by Industrial Defender for a decade. Industrial Defender has had a lot of success. We are second to none in the NERC CIP space, for compliance monitoring and reporting. We also have both passive and active asset management tools, and that have carried us throughout the years. In the past few years, we’ve operated under Lockheed Martin, Leidos, and then Capgemini. We are now privately owned and are excited to be in a very aggressive growth mode, putting Industrial Defender back on the map and coming out with some innovative approaches and tools that will enable us to grow competitively in both our existing spaces as well as new ones, which we'll talk about here in a little bit.

Aaron: I know for me, I'd heard of Industrial Defender a long time ago, but when I started looking at this, at this role, I had to look back up, what is Industrial Defender? Is the product the same?

Gabe Authier: Yeah, like Jay said, we've been kind of known for being able to do NERC CIP and help with auditing. That's kind of where we were born. Now we’re expanding beyond utilities. And this year we’re starting to focus on also helping small to medium size manufacturers, water/wastewater, people who do cybersecurity assessments. And with that, we are building out a new set of tools to serve this market.

We're positioning ourselves going forward as being a true asset management solution, a single source of truth for all your OT asset data. Even if you're not having to spit out those reports for compliance purposes, there's still really a need to know what's on your network. And with our tool we get the most in-depth data around your assets that are out there. And then with our various integrations that we have in place and the ability to integrate with other products in the future, it's going to allow us to bring data in from other products, but also push data out to other SIEM-like tools. It's really going to make us the hub for OT asset data going forward.

Aaron Crow: Speaking of verticals, Alex, do you want dive a little bit more into the focus around clients and use cases?

Alex Bagwell: Yeah, as mentioned, NERC CIP was our bread and butter to start. We have 50-60 utilities that continue to leverage the Industrial Defender platform for that today. This year, we’ve seen an acceleration in that, with about a 20-30% uptick in interest in our NERC CIP platform. So that's been great. We also continue to excel with some of the best change management and configuration management capabilities, and in supporting other frameworks like IEC 62243 policies, and TSA.

We continue to build that library and help our customer base understand if they're in a good known state. But NERC CIP can only go so far. Reporting can only go so far. And what we're starting to see in the market in a lot of interest is around organizations coming to us in the utility space, the manufacturing space, discrete process, and transportation and saying, “Hey, I've, I've done the foundational cybersecurity steps. I've increased my hygiene, I've increased my posture by understanding what assets are out there. The basics. And they're coming to us now and saying, “we're already using you for NERC CIP compliance, could we expand into our distribution, transmission sides of the business to build upon passive monitoring capabilities and start implementing some of these more active asset visibilities?

And that's great because we have incredible partnerships where we can ingest those types of products into our solution to give that single unified view and then also apply it to compliance apply it to some policy, apply it to some level of change management.

And that's where you're seeing Industrial Defender expand from a utilities focus and into the manufacturing side. I'm also extremely excited because a lot of organizations are chasing these larger companies, right? We really want to be able to service that SMB market. Gabe mentioned some new products that are kind of come out to allow these utilities, water/wastewater, small manufacturers, mom and pop shops, to get that level of asset visibility. Something that's going allow them to take that first step towards securing their infrastructure.

Aaron: Jay, I'm gonna ask you a hot topic here. Do you think that Industrial Defender, our product is a cybersecurity tool?

Jay: Ah, that is a hot topic. I will say that in and of itself, it is not necessarily a cybersecurity tool. However, it represents the core foundational aspects of most cybersecurity programs. Without the asset management, without that contextual data, the way to look at it is: you can't know and properly manage those assets without knowing their existence and at least having some contextual data around them. So the fact is, Industrial Defender is the best OT asset management tool out there.

It truly goes back to what Gabe was saying, is that we're the hub of the single source of truth for the all the asset data. And, you know, from a cybersecurity standpoint, if you really think about OT asset management and OT cybersecurity programs, you know, a lot of the foundational best practices don't necessarily involve vulnerability management or threat detection. It's asset management, it's endpoint hardening. I mean, can you say any one of those things specifically are cybersecurity specific events? No. But are they part of the better program? Yes.

Gabe: And we’re working on a really lightweight version of our Industrial Defender's sensing capabilities. And when we talk about that, we're actually looking to kind of decouple some of our sensing capabilities within the product today, and put that technology, that sensing capability within a container. And what that's going allow us to do is put those containers, these Industrial Defender sensing containers on various types of hardware out there, whether they're switches, firewalls, or other devices from various manufacturers that specialize in ruggedized devices for the OT space. We've already got a lot of interest with some companies that we've been talking to. So we're confident that in the first part of 2023, you'll start seeing some announcements for us to have this containerized technology out in the market and out on some of these switches and firewalls.

The other thing we're really going to be focusing on is integrations. We talk about Industrial Defender wants to be the hub for all of your OT asset data. And what does that mean? Well, it means that we need to have a real easy way for our partners to connect into our Industrial Defender platform. And that's through APIs. And we've done a really good job building those APIs along the way. Most of our partners out have a robust API system. This allows us to bring data into our system, potentially do something with that data, and then actually even push that data back out. So again, that just gets back to that vision of us being the single source of truth for all your OT asset data. So we're excited to be pushing those integrations further, going into 2023 and beyond.

This has been an excerpt of a PrOTect OT Cybersecurity Podcast episode (edited for clarity). For the full conversation, listen and subscribe here: