TechHub: Industrial Hacks, Automated Cars and Smart Elevators

Top cyber security conference kicks off with water treatment plant hack

In case you couldn’t make it, we’ve got updates from one of the world’s largest security events happening this week in San Francisco, CA.

The RSA Conference gathers the industry’s top security and technology leaders and pioneers—including a Gray Matter cyber security consultant– promoting a forward-thinking global community to foster innovative ideas and new approaches to inspire and empower the industry.

FBI cyber division at industrial RSA 2017

The FBI Cyber Division recruitment booth at the RSA Conference 2017.

The event featured keynote speakers such as a defense intelligence officer for cyber at the Defense Intelligence Agency, senior cryptographer at Microsoft Research, director of information security at Google, a senior security engineer for Fitbit and more.

This year, it started off with a bang– kicking off with an intentional ransomware attack on a water treatment plant launched by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

According to Nextgov, a National Journal Group, the attack successfully shut down valves, adjusted chlorine levels and falsified readings.

This demonstration highlighted the increasing fear of malware attacks on utility companies, much like what’s been happening to power plants, banks and others.

Industrial control systems are becoming increasingly vulnerable, and are oftentimes connected to the Internet without intention.

To get ahead in cyber security, the first step is finding out what you don’t know.

Take our cyber challenge to test your knowledge and find out what you know — and don’t know — about your own system.

What’s Your Score?

Ford’s Billion-dollar self-driving car deal creating 200 high-tech jobs by end of 2017

This week Ford announced a partnership with Argo AI– investing in the company to create an engineer and test center for self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, PA.

Argo AI is run by alumni of the Carnegie Mellon National Robotics Engineering Center and specializes in development of artificial intelligence. They are looking to work with Ford to develop autonomous vehicles by 2021, according to Trib Live media group.

It’s estimated that the partnership will add 200 high-tech jobs in Pittsburgh, Michigan and California by the end of the year­– amounting to over 1,000 jobs within the next five years from the Ford deal, according to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in Trib Live.

Uber has already been testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh since 2016, according to Wired, where pre-selected Uber users within a 12-square-mile radius of downtown have the option of riding in one of the autonomous vehicles — with a human engineer behind the wheel, naturally.

“Pittsburgh continues to make global headlines on this growing industry,” said Bryan Salesky, Argo AI CEO. “Which stems from the hard work and brainpower of our friends at Carnegie Mellon and the many industries they continue to seed and grow throughout our region.”

Partners in Global Alliance and Digital Enterprise

The GE Global Partner Summit hosted by GE Digital in Napa, CA, features premiere alliances in all committed to supporting the growing industrial data marketplace.

Starting on Tuesday, the summit showcased the newest technologies and innovations in the industry. Not an alliance partner? Don’t worry — Gray Matter was there to help bring you up to speed.

The buzz of the event was success stories in digital transformations.

“The world needs a system to take industrial data from the edge and move it to the cloud,” said Harel Kodesh, Vice President of Predix and Chief Technology Officer of GE Digital.

That system is Predix.

Predix is an operating system for the Industrial Internet that connects industrial equipment, analyzes data and delivers real-time insights as a result.

Four themes of Predix were outlined throughout the summit: scale the platform, support the digital twin, edge-to-cloud platform and advance developing experience.

Predix has been implemented for various issues, including elevator safety.

Imagine you’re stuck in an elevator, alone. Who will know you’re in there and come to save you?

The solution is connected elevators.

By using GE Digital’s Predix software, Huawei Technologies developed IoT enabled elevators — reducing operational and maintenance costs by detecting potential risk immediately and in turn improving passengers’ safety.

GE Digital’s partnership with Gray Matter Systems is a part of their growing industrial ecosystem. The goal is to help companies undergoing digital transformations in every industry.

In the two-minute video spotlight with Gray Matter CEO, Jim Gillespie, GE focuses on the journey of two Gray Matter customers, Procter & Gamble and Anadarko. Watch the video here:

TechHub: Realizing the Digital Enterprise at ARC Forum, 3D Printing and More

Industry 4.0: Realizing the Digital Enterprise

This week, leaders in the industrial enterprise— such as Gray Matter VP, Kemell Kassim– met together at the 21st Annual ARC Advisory Forum in Orlando, Florida.

The industry forum featured the latest, most innovative technologies in the digitalization process and convergence of operational and informational technology within plants.

More companies are transitioning to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) products and solutions, and reaping the benefits of real-time data analysis, critical asset management, optimizing performance, minimal downtime and cyber security that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Cyber security is a hot topic at this year’s ARC Forum—specifically, security for industrial environments.

“There are a lot of great solutions out there, but we saw that customers could use help with their strategy and getting the most out of their cyber investments,” said Kemell. Find out more about our cyber offerings here.

Cyber Predictions for the Industrial Sector in 2017

Cyber threats have become a top priority in the industrial sector.

2017 is shaping up to be the year that legislation cracks down on cyber security as a global effort to secure networks, particularly industry and utility networks, and fight international cyber espionage and crime.

According to Forbes, national borders for data and cyber security regulation will be a hot item on the global political agenda.

With continued innovation from malware developers, it’s predicted to develop into multi-faceted functionality and focus on mobile devices.

That means two things: cybercriminals will be able to bypass two-factor authentication via text message and they will continue to try to develop infectious apps in an effort to monetize stolen credit card data.

Ransomware is expected to be a continued threat within the industrial and corporate worlds, as cyber security is mitigating the huge hits from 2016 with anti-ransomware and decryption tools being made readily available.

3D Printing Unlocks New Potential for Production

Much of the imminent future will be filled with artificial intelligence, big data and development in machine operation and production.

3D Printing

The finished product of a 3-D printed CATA gear. Image credit: GE Reports/Chris New

Included in that world is 3D printing, which plays a dominant role in the future of production, manufacturing and automation.

According to Forbes, 3D printing is the process of creating products of typically plastic or metal by laser technology from a template, building up the product in layers until it’s finished.

In the industry, the potential from this is huge.

It unlocks the ability to create lightweight products such as aircraft, cars and filtration devices, as well as build concrete structures more than 50% faster than conventional methods allow, according to Forbes.

GE Digital is currently exploring this new technology at their Center for Additive Technology Advancement (CATA), which opened in Pittsburgh in April, 2016.

Calling it the “latest twist on manufacturing,” GE is exploring the options it offers through printing parts for jet engines with GE Aviation, as well as valves for GE Oil & Gas.

3D Printing

PolyJet printers can print from as many as four polymers at once. Their combination can produce soft as well as hard parts and hundreds of different colors. Image credit: GE Reports/Chris New

Currently, a huge focus for the company lies within their “industrialization lab,” which allows for GE businesses to bring in their 3D designs and work to find a solution to speed up the process from lab to production, according to GE Reports.

“This is a huge breakthrough for rapid prototyping,” Dave Miller, an engineer at CATA says in GE Reports. “You’d normally spend many thousands of dollars and many weeks to achieve the same results. With this 3D printer you are cutting down costs and also your lead time.”

TechHub: This Week in the Industrial Internet

In today’s wrap-up: Industry 4.0 acceleration, securing operational technology and digital transformation in the world of water

But first, welcome

Welcome to the first Gray Matter TechHub industry roundup — we’re glad you’re here.

In the coming weeks, join us in exploring the current industry buzz on cyber security, the Industrial Internet, operational technology, Industry 4.0 and digital transformations.

We know you’re busy, so allow us to pore over top news and send you what impacts you the most. Together, we’ll stay informed and empower our teams to work smarter in the changing world of operational technology.

Industry 4.0 is accelerating

A recent study interviewing 750 production managers from leading companies in three industrial sectors finds they are setting ambitious productivity goals for 2017. New digital and analytic tools are helping them establish best-in-class productivity programs.Industry 4.0

Predix, a cloud-based platform, is enabling industrial analytics for asset performance management (APM) and optimizing operations by providing a standard way to connect machines, data and people.

The study from the Boston Consulting Group found that 74% of the manufacturing executives interviewed plan to implement or are in the process of undergoing digital transformations.

One problem manufacturers mentioned was digitizing specific parts of a plant at a time, instead of a comprehensive integration.

Take a look at the digital transformation journey stories of Gray Matter customers Procter & Gamble and Anadarko in a two-minute spotlight by GE Digital.

Industry Week recommends four priorities when securing operational technology

What’s the most important factor of undergoing a digital transformation in Industry?


Industry Week said that the most efficient way to ensure this is through sensors, securing the first mile, data storage and software as well as having the right people and policies in place.

  • Sensors

Sensors allow for monitoring integrated devices within the industrial facility, reducing the risk for device manipulation within the OT system. In turn, this allows for stricter device security and acts as a prevention method for harm within the production process, environment or people.

High-level security systems are crucial for critical asset OT systems and management.

  • Securing the “first mile”

Securing the “first mile” involves the initial communication connections within a network. It allows companies to connect critical assets from their OT systems with a secure, private cloud network in order to have real-time analysis, according to Industry Week.

By securing this network of communication, it prevents malicious malware from being spread throughout the system and infecting devices and operations within a facility. 

  • Data storage and software

Installing smart application software is necessary for critical data analysis, and a crucial step towards system integration to the Industrial IoT.

  • People and Policies

Having the right policies and training for people in place is essential to security. Creating a strict security policy is crucial to keeping data secure, and decreases risk for data corruption either maliciously or inadvertently.

To find out your operational score, take our free cyber security challenge. 

Take the Challenge

The World of Water: New Gray Matter Innovation Partner

Gray Matter Systems is partnering with Eramosa Engineering Inc. to provide innovation solutions to our water customers. Eramosa provides services for implementing technology solutions and has ongoing projects throughout Canada and the United States. One example is the Regional Municipality of Waterloo where they upgraded their water and wastewater system.

Waterloo, a city in southern Ontario, hosts the Elmira Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), Kitchener WWTP, Manheim WTP and Preston WWTP.

As part of the project, Eramosa planned and implemented construction of two new equalization tanks to the Elmira plant, as well as installed and programmed GE’s iFIX software for the tanks.

At the Kitchener plant, new UV disinfection and blowers building facilities were designed to upgrade the aeration and disinfection process, and integrated into the facility’s SCADA network.

At the Manheim plant, there was removal and decommissioning of clarifying processes and installing ACTIFLO units, as well as a polymer dosing system to remove sludge, integrating them into their SCADA system.

Upgrading systems and reaching the highest standard in technology, as well as system integration for real-time data analysis, allows for better overall operations and a safer and healthier environment.

CyBlog: This Week in Cyber Security

This week in the world of cyber, the top predictions of what will be trending in 2017 are flooding the web. Talks of industry and utility hacks, scares of increasingly complex malware attacks and pleads of a more stringent cybersecurity system are more prevalent than ever.

Surprise! Your Operational Technology is connected to the Internet

Discussions of the Ukraine power grid hack have been continuing in the news since before the holidays, with constant updates on the follow-up attack and how they’re connected, as well as what this could mean for the industrial and utility world as thousands were left without power.

Kiev (pictured here) is the capital of Ukraine, a victim in one of multiple malware attacks on their power grid.

Kiev (pictured here) is the capital of Ukraine, a victim in one of multiple malware attacks on their power grid.

Security Week, an internet and enterprise security news and analysis publication, predicts that cyber extortion will further target utility plants due to industrial network air-gaps. This makes it easy for cyber attackers to infiltrate SCADA and ICS systems, and possibly PLCs.

The publication also says that due to the increase in interest of interconnectivity and lack of protection within systems, ICS networks are becoming more complex and more exposed to external threats.

Read more on assessing your SCADA system and the upgrading process in our free white paper. 

Cybersecurity and Malware in the World of OT

With the growing and continuing risk of ransomware infiltrating company systems, cybersecurity is even more of a hot-topic for companies than it was in 2016.


A possible pop-up screen after malware has distributed into a system.

eWeek, a news publications specializing in the IT industry analysis and technology news,
reported that co-founder and CEO of Keeper Security Darren Guccione predicts small and medium-sized businesses will be more at risk for cyberattacks and data breaches in 2017.

Ransomware isn’t going away. In fact, it’s going to get more effective as hackers become better at embedding the viruses into emails through phishing, a fraudulent practice of sending emails within a company in an effort to steal personal and company information.

As a result, he recommends increasing investment in security defenses to be protected against these increasing threats.

Another prediction from eWEEK is hacks will be getting increasingly more complex. Rather than just single threat vectors, hybrid attacks will be more common. What does this mean? Hackers will be able to infiltrate your system, and then hide their tracks. By using a combination of phishing to deliver malware and then launching a Denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, the system is disrupted and suspends all services connected to the internet. This compromises various systems and is often infected using a Trojan virus — a type of vicious malware disguised within a user system as software.


Cybercriminals hacked into and compromised a utility in Lansing, Michigan, at the end of 2016.

Watch our on-demand webinar on securing your operational technology.

The Dangers of Outdated Operational Technology

Speaking of DDoS attacks, Lloyds Banking Group, Britain’s largest mortgage lender, was hit with a viral attack on Jan. 11.

According to Reuters, the bank was “bombarded” with copious amounts of traffic from various systems to overloaded the server. This resulted in temporarily freezing customers out of access to their online accounts.

This comes just months after Britain’s first large cyber bank heist in November when Tesco Banking was hacked. Hackers took funds from 20,000 accounts, and the bank halted all online transactions, and amounted to 2.5 million pounds, or $3 million, in losses.

Shortly after, the European Union (EU) decided it was necessary to boost security and is considering an EU-wide stress test within the industry.

Unfortunately, EU banks “rely on a digital infrastructure that is rigid and outdated,” according to Reuters, and is considering new technologies in an effort to boost security.

Is your SCADA system outdated? Using outdated technology can be extremely harmful towards your internal infrastructure and leaves you at a greater risk for cybercrime.