TechHub: Industrial Market Growth, Advancement in Smart Cities & Homeland Security Urges Cyber

The Industrial Market Opportunity

Manufacturing and industrial companies are the backbone of the U.S. economy. With the advancement of the digital age, more factories and utilities are looking to cut costs, decrease downtime and streamline operations.

This industry’s operations are extremely different from IT enterprises and rely on partner companies that specialize in operational technology in order to connect and protect their assts.

GrayMatter was highlighted in CRN, a news analysis online publication for technology companies.

“We help customers in these markets connect their factories, connect their big expensive assets,” said James Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter, in CRN. “Those are things we’ve been working on, to digitize the information, and to help customers get better results.”

Jim Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter

The article explores various aspects from the operational issues companies face, to a continuously growing partnership with GE and the possibilities the Industrial Internet has for companies.

Part of that partnership is collaborative engineering on cutting-edge ideas like Brilliant Manufacturing by GE Digital, a suite of software enabling predictive analytics on a scalable intelligent system powered by the cloud-based operating system Predix.

“It’s enabling digital transformations at a scale that would have been harder to do in the past,” said Gillespie. “Predix is like the iOS of the operating systems and now there’s people coming together to write apps — there’s a whole group of people emerging in a community of developers and solution providers.”

Cloud technology is now in an advanced place where it’s becoming universally affordable, dependable and reachable. The community around the operating system is pushing the industry forward, and everybody needs to jump on board.

View all of the technology services GrayMatter has to offer:

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Homeland Security Urges Industrial Cybersecurity

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) issued an alert about a malicious BrickerBot permanent Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack.

BrickerBot exploits hard-coded passwords in Internet of Things (IoT) devices to cause a permanent denial of service, locking operators out of their systems.

The team encourages asset owners to know that their control systems are deployed securely and not exposed to threats through open internet connections by thoroughly auditing their networks.

Control systems often have devices accessible to the internet without operators knowing, leaving them at a greater risk for an attack. Completing a vulnerability assessment allows operators to know what devices are connected, how strong authentication methods are, vulnerable firewalls and use of unauthorized remote access.

To learn more about cyber security for the OT, download the GrayMatter cyber security guide for operational technology:

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The Advancement of Smart Cities

San Diego announced a new partnership with GE to deploy the world’s largest Internet of Things platform using smart streetlights. This will reduce energy costs by 60-percent and transform them into a single, connected digital network that can optimize parking and traffic, enhance public safety and track air quality.

Over 3,000 smart sensors will be deployed, with a potential to expand an additional 3,000 in the future, to upgrade over 14,000 city lights.

By reducing energy needs, greenhouse gas admissions will be reduced. Light pollution will also decrease with the implemented new technology enabling dimming and brightening features either automatically or remotely, depending on natural light conditions.

GE’s intelligent lighting in San Diego. Image: GE Lighting

The GE Current CityIQ sensor nodes will support a range of applications varying from gunshot detection, to smart parking and air quality control.

“This technology is powerful. Downtown visitors will be able to find parking easily and in real time using a smart phone, and the environmental and transportation data will help Downtown meet the goals of the Climate Action Plan. This is a huge win for San Diego,” said Kris Michell, the President & CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

Deployment of the platform will begin in July and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

It’s expected to save the city over $2.4 million annually in energy costs.

TechHub: Cyber in oil and gas, over 1,000 tech jobs created & more

ISA Director to oil & gas: “The time to act is now.”

Patrick Gouhin, Executive Director and CEO of the International Society of Automation (ISA) spoke at a Bloomberg Live conference in Texas on the future of cyber security in the oil and gas sector.

Patrick Gouhin cyber tech hub

Patrick Gouhin, ISA Executive Director and CEO. Image: LinkedIn

ISA is a nonprofit professional association that sets the standard for applying engineering and technology to improve management, safety and cyber security of automation and control systems.

Check out GrayMatter’s cyber services for operational technology.

The focus of his presence, according to Automation, an online industrial news website, was to urge industry executives to protect their facilities from cyber attacks.

He noted the increasing number of cyber attacks on industrial facilities, which are crucial to the economy and national security, and that there are effective standards available today.

“The time to act is now — not years in the future,” said Gouhin.

Supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA) are used to monitor and control industrial networks, and are not designed to be resilient against cyber attacks.

The result? An attack can disable safe operations of these facilities, resulting in sometimes fatal consequences. Plant shutdowns, widespread blackouts, explosions, chemical leaks and more can result, according to Automation.

How much do you know, or not know, about your operational system? Take the industrial cyber security challenge to find out your knowledge level based on your score:

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New deal to add over 1,000 autonomous tech jobs within five years

General Motors announced plans to invest in autonomous vehicle technology startup Cruise Automation, with plans to double their current research and development facility and add 1,100 jobs over five years.

Currently Cruise is listed on Glassdoor.com as having under 200 employees, the deal increasing the company by 550 percent.

“As autonomous car technology matures, our company’s talent needs will continue to increase,” said Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation.

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GM CEO Mary Barra with autonomous Chevy Bolt in 2016. Image: General Motors

Cruise and GM engineers are testing more than 50 Chevrolet Bolt EVs, which are built at the GM plant in Metro Detroit, Mich., with self-driving technology in San Francisco, Scottsdale and Metro Detroit, according to Industry Week.

Let’s talk ROI: Business and the Industrial Internet of Things

The momentum of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is undeniable. The benefits are among real-time connectivity and sensors, allowing for access to the data you want when you want it.

Yet many executives are still hesitant when implementing IIoT technology. The cautious attitude is due to the complexity of data architectures and massive enterprise-wide investments that require extensive engineering with long-term commitment, according to Industry Week.

This leaves them lost on measuring the value they’re receiving from their investment, and second-guessing whether they’re investing in the right approach for their company.

The answer? Finding a company that will work with customers to help find finite and scaled options to lower the risk of adopting to the new technology, yet still reap the benefits of the IIoT.

By integrating to IIoT platforms, it empowers plant operators to leverage their data and technologies to improve reliability, safety, energy management and overall operation performance for a price and level that works on an individual as-need basis.

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TechHub: Digital Disruption, IoT Expanding Digital Footprints and More

Digital Disruption Transcending Industry Borders

With the first quarter of 2017 coming to a close, it’s clear that the exponential growth within the technology industry is not slowing down.

25,000 new information-related jobs were created in February this year alone, according to Forbes.

As this tech push continues, we’re seeing more and more of the Digital Twin emerge as physical and digital worlds blend together.

The Digital Twin is the computerized companion of physical assets, using data sensors to show real-time data analytics.

The adoption of this trend is becoming increasingly popular as companies realize the countless benefits that the Industrial Internet of Things provides, and Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence become mainstream.

The biggest mistake companies are making right now is assuming these technologies won’t influence their business or impact their industry.

Industry 4.0 is real, and it’s here.

Smart technology is becoming integrated into every facet of life, resulting in customers having the ability to buy anything, anytime, anywhere.

“The convergence of cloud, mobile, social and data have ushered in a new wave of business models that will present unique challenges for various industries,” said Bob Weiler in Forbes.

With this new technology comes new challenges and questions emerging for industry leaders.

To stay ahead of the competition— and win— organizations will need partners who can provide a new level of knowledge and experience within the industry, according to Forbes.

Rethinking business models within critical industry operations is necessary to maximize performance.

The pace of change is accelerating fast. Organizations need to jump on board and embrace emerging digital technologies.

To learn the first three questions to ask in your digital transformation, join our webinar on Thursday, April 6, at 2:30 PM EST: Transform Your Operation: Vision Before Action.

Gray Matter Director of Professional Services John Benitz will demystify the beginning of the digital journey for you using his expertise on various transformations like the GE Brilliant Manufacturing process.

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Digital Transformation: Solving Big Manufacturing Problems

The top problems manufacturers are struggling with are visibility into operations, sharing information across one or multiple plants and allowing the right people to access the necessary data.

The solution? Digital transformation of plant operations.

“Digitizing production processes is more about running an efficient business than it is about jumping onto the next technology bandwagon,” said Industry Week.

Automating processes and storing big data on the cloud allows for a single connected platform with production visibility. It allows for a single-set of accurate data and increases the control plant operators need, according to Industry Week.

Instead of having information documented on manual paper processes like Excel spreadsheets, it can be accessed in real-time across one or multiple plants.

Access to product information, inventory, quality data and more increases the productivity and decreases downtime throughout the plant.

Automating the plant is also automating the communication, in turn freeing up people and resources. Instead of having to track down the necessary information and data, workers have instant access to it at a moment’s notice.

Going paperless and automating processes is a critical step within the industry, and lays the groundwork for future innovations.

Gray Matter has a new solution to help transform manual data entry processes into digital insights for manufacturers, utilities and energy companies.

Mobility@Work digitizes information that would have been buried in stacks of paper and puts data in a format that can be used for big picture analysis.

Hauling manifests, inspections, scheduling, incidents, inventory and time sheets are all transformed from piles on someone’s desk to an easy to read digital presentation.

“There are a lot of correlations you can make if you have the data working for you instead of in a stack of paper.” – Kemell Kassim, Gray Matter VP

Download the free white paper to learn how Gray Matter solved the manual data entry problem and helped save a leading energy company nearly $1 million in just the first year.

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IoT Devices Expanding Digital Footprints & Vulnerabilities

Security Week defines IoT devices as convenient.

They allow us to have access to data remotely and process it faster than ever.

However, with the convenience comes risk, and most people aren’t locking down their systems like they should be.

There are more avenues now than ever for cybercriminals to breach systems as more devices are connected and the digital footprint of plants are expanded.

The reality of IoT hacks is eminent. Recent research highlights how PLC controllers can be hacked and potentially taint water supply, according to Security Week. Not enough devices are accounted for, and too much personal and business data is intermingled.

The top recommendations to fix this are to get a clear policy in place, designate accountability and segment your network.

By having clear rules, placing risk and responsibility on people or teams and designating sections of your network help block the threat of cybercriminals. It makes finding an easy path into the network nonexistent.

IoT devices have a lot to offer in the world of operational technology and plant management, the risk just needs to be mitigated and vulnerabilities need to be tracked.

Gray Matter offers a vulnerability assessment for OT networks that creates a security baseline for each asset with an IP address.

In a recent interview with ARC Advisory Group, Gray Matter VP Kemell Kassim detailed recent cyber initiatives and ROI case studies.

Download the Q&A Here

TechHub: Leading a Digital, Industrial Era and Cyber Security as a National Priority

GE’s 2016 Report and the industry potential for 2017 and onward

This week GE Digital released its 2016 Annual Report, highlighting details such as an 83-percent increase in GE cash from operating activities, amounting to $30 Billion, as well as an increase by 4-percent in Industrial Segment Revenues, amounting to over $113 Billion.

Other components to the report are a look into building jet engines, a letter to shareholders, testing a giant gas turbine and more.

The report featured a 3D interactive video, explaining additive manufacturing and the new technologies that help design 3D-printed products.

It allows you to explore pictures of the assembly of the largest jet engine designed for commercial use, as well as the most fuel-efficient one produced by GE.

3D-printed fuel nozzles and fan blades, electron beam melting and more are explored through this interactive demonstration of innovative and futuristic manufacturing in the “Factory of Tomorrow.”

Playing by the (cyber) rules

This week a new set of rules went into effect in New York requiring companies to put cyber defenses in place. It’s just the start of what will be a new era of rules and regulations about cyber security for industries. While this week’s rules are just for New York, they will have a big impact on companies outside of the state.

What are the rules?

Companies in the finance industry are now required to have a cyber-security plan in place.  According to Fortune, this includes network penetration testing, cyber audit trails and restricting access to customer data.  Firms will also need a senior security officer whose job is to submit an annual compliance certificate.

“The days of saying,’I have a great IT guy’ are now over,” said an accounting firm executive during the Fortune interview. Cyber security has become a boardroom issue.  

Who are the rules for?

The companies who need to comply are banking, insurance, or brokerage firms that use licenses to operate in New York. Fortune also reports it’s important to note the rules will affect third-party vendors.


The regulations don’t affect operational technology companies at this time, but the same scenario is playing out in the OT space. Cyber is no longer a technology issue, it’s an enterprise issue. We’ll keep you posted as the regulations grow.

Governors declare cyber security a national emergency, state emergency

“Cyber security is critical to each and every governor.”

Those were the words of Terry McAuliffe, Chairman of the National Governors Association, at the four-day-long meeting in Washington D.C. as he urged fellow governors to take cyber threat precautions and increase their states’ defenses.

Noting that his own state faced 86 million cyber attacks in 2016, according to The Hill, the Virginia governor said that cybersecurity is both a national and state issue.

The association has made cyber security a recent priority, holding its first regional summit on cyber security in October and setting up a cyber center to aid states with securing infrastructure.

McAuliffe noted there is still a drastic need of a strategic plan on how to tackle cyber security within states, as well as improving critical infrastructure vulnerabilities.

Learn how to create faster time to OT security and how to multiply your cyber team in the free webinar: Accelerate Time to OT protection on March 16.

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New computing system made from blockchain is less vulnerable to cyber attacks

This week, several corporate giants announced joining forces to create a new computing system based on the virtual currency network Ethereum.

Similar to Bitcoin, the technology platform will run on a custom-built blockchain, a very powerful shared global infrastructure that can help developers create markets, store registries of debts, move funds and more.

One notable aspect of the platform is the ability to create a tradeable digital token used as online currency that can either be set to a fixed amount or fluctuate depending on the programming, according to Ethereum, the Swiss nonprofit organization. The virtual currency is known as Ether within the network.

It can run smart contracts. It enables applications to run exactly as programmed without the possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.

This is good news for cyber security experts.

According to the New York Times, the technology is reported as being harder to hack.

By adapting blockchain technology into their business models, large businesses are able to safely keep track of information such as stock and bond trading transactions.

The creation of the alliance shows the push forward among big companies to integrate technology into business plans and create streamlined databases with less back-office maintenance.

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