TechHub: Digital Transformation in Chicago, Transform 2017 Keynote Kristi Woolsey & Ransomware in Industrial Networks

Chicago: The New Silicon Valley

Chicago’s technology community has been booming in the last five years.

A new KPMG report lists Chicago as a hopeful candidate to be the next international hub for innovation due to its talent and infrastructure, according to Inc. Magazine.

The city fosters a developing startup ecosystem, which raised more than $1.7 billion in funding in 2016, and ranks among the best in the country for growth of tech jobs.

Whereas Silicon Valley has shifted away from innovation to a lifestyle, landing tech leaders like the Snapchat CEO on the front page of a major fashion magazine, Chicago fosters a culture of no-nonsense leaders based on the value of hard work and dedication, according to Inc.


The rooftops at Wrigley Field. Source: CNNMoney

The digital revolution is making more millionaires than ever, pooling together the most brilliant minds on the plant to cultivate an innovative mindset that focuses on creating value.

Join GrayMatter and GE Digital for an interactive session on digital transformations in Chicago on Wednesday, June 21.

Designed for you to learn and share your thoughts, there will be a chance to network with peers and watch the Cubs play the Padres at the exclusive rooftop suites at Wrigley Field.

Nate Arnold, VP of Manufacturing Digital Technology of GE Digital and GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie will reveal specific insights on the best paths to success in digital manufacturing and reveal what’s gone wrong in past cases.

Space is limited, so be sure to reserve your spot today.

Reserve My Spot

Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces of 2017 AnnouncedInc. Best Workplaces of 2017 GrayMatter

Inc. Magazine recently announced the 2017 best workplaces in their annual list, featuring GrayMatter.

Inc. recognizes the top companies to work for, asking thousands of employees about the places they work. For GrayMatter, transforming operations and empowering people includes our own people.

Transform 2017: MAYA’s Kristi Woolsey as Keynote Speaker

GrayMatter is proud to announce that Transform 2017, the annual GrayMatter conference in Put-in-Bay, Ohio, will feature MAYA Design’s Kristi Woolsey as a prominent keynote speaker this year.

Transform 2017 Kristi Woolsey

Kristi Woolsey, MAYA Design

Woolsey is a dynamic speaker with a long track record of providing insightful presentations that put today’s initiatives into a future context.

Most of her talks revolve around behavioral strategy, the technique of influencing employees and customers towards desired behaviors including greater loyalty, innovation, collaboration, and productivity. These talks and workshops challenge business leaders, HR, IT, and CRE professionals to create lasting branded experiences that increase employee and customer engagement, driving improved business outcomes.

GE Digital’s Sr. Service Director Paul Casto will also present as a keynote speaker. Presenting the power of brand new applications that can be leveraged in the cloud to provide extremely fast, easy to access information about all your assets, he will help cut through the chaos and decipher your digital priorities and first steps.

Transform 2017 is a three day conference in Put-in-Bay, OH, from August 1 – 3.  Professionals in all verticals who are passionate about operational technology and transforming into digital, industrial operations should plan to attend.

View our full agenda and register before June 9 to get the early bird special.

View Agenda

Industrial Networks at Risk of Ransomware Attacks

In recent weeks the news has been filled with reports of the newest malware, WannaCry ransomware, which has infected more than 200,000 systems worldwide.

An alert was published by the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, a division of Homeland Security, which advised operations to update security software, create backups, train employees and configure access controls to block unauthorized access to sensitive systems.

Industrial environments are particularly susceptible to these types of attacks for several reasons, including the improper segmentation of IT and OT networks, unpatched Windows machines and the presence of SMB on devices hosting HMIs, engineering workstations, historians and other systems, according to Security Week.

Phil Neray, VP of Industrial Cybersecurity at CyberX, believes that patching the vulnerability is not easy in the case of ICS.

“It’s worth noting that many of the SCADA applications embedded in our electrical grid and manufacturing plants were developed years ago and are tethered to older versions of Windows — so the fix isn’t going to be easy,” Neray said.



ICYMI: Automation News Roundup, Week Ending June 12

The Cost of a Cybersecurity Breach Doubles

The U.K. government urged that action be taken after the cost of cybersecurity breaches doubles, according to a recent article by Forbes.

And it’s not just a few organizations or companies affected– 90% of large businesses in the United Kingdom have reported they have suffered an information security breach. While 74% of small and medium-sized businesses were also hit.

Nowadays, the average cost of the most severe security breaches for big business can now reach £3.14 million ($4.8 million), and the average cost for companies with around 500 employees is between £1.46 million and £3.14 million, says the U.K.’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).


Because of the extreme cost of breaches, the U.K. government urged action because of the threat it poses to the growth of business.

U.K. Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said, “Businesses that take this threat seriously are not only protecting themselves and their customers’ data but securing a competitive advantage.”

Oil & Gas Companies Prevent Surprise Downtime

Jeremiah Stone, General Manager of Industrial Data Intelligence Software at GE wrote that not too long ago, diagnosing a problem with critical assets was cumbersome and difficult.

Photo courtesy Ed Schipul

Photo courtesy Ed Schipul

For the most part, operators could only easily diagnose issues after there had been a failure. And the guarantee of a solution relied upon the parts available and the expertise of the maintenance staff.

These days, however, the Industrial Internet is making the diagnostic challenge less overwhelming and more straightforward– specifically with the use of remote monitoring and diagnostic (RM&D) capabilities.

And due the nature of the expensive equipment and difficult operating conditions related to Oil and Gas companies, those in the industry have not hesitated to reap the benefits from RM&D services.

Stone mentions that in his own RM&D center, they “remotely monitor assets for many industrial operations and routinely uncover small anomalies – we call these ‘catch-of-the-week’ — that could have had serious consequences if left unchecked.”

Some common ones are:

  • Pressure loss at O&G facility
  • Temperature anomaly at natural gas compression facility
  • Mercury rising at offshore platform
  • Fluctuating compressor pressure at refinery

Self-Driving Cars Aren’t Ready– Yet

Photo courtesy Roman Boed

The talk centered around self-driving cars are not just Sci-Fi speculations anymore. Google has already begun testing for the futuristic vehicles, and some companies have said that they expect they will enter the market by 2020, according to an article from CBC News.

Barrie Kirk, executive director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence, said that the technology is coming along faster than you may think.

Kirk posits that because humans “make poor drivers,” a fully automated-vehicle world can make the roads safer.

‘If you’re got a whole bunch of sensors that give you a 360-degree scan, 30 times a second, humans can not come anywhere close to that.’ – Kirk

Before you start to plan financially for your first automated vehicle, other experts are saying that the tests done so far have shown that these self-driving cars are not ready. Yet.

Steve Shladover said that today’s automated vehicles just don’t have that capability. He should have a good grasp on the topic, after all, he has researched driverless cars for four decades. His most recent stint as the program manager, mobility for the University of California’s PATH (Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology) program.

Both researchers even agree that the transition time into a period of all-automated cars will be tough.

“Human drivers will cut in front of a computer-driven car because they know they can,” Kirk said in the article, “It makes human drivers even more assertive, even more aggressive drivers, which is what we don’t need.”

Has Your ICS Been Breached?

Power Magazine opened a recent article with the question, “Has your ICS been breached? Are you sure? How do you know?”

This is a more common question post-2010, the year that Stuxnet was discovered. Since then, industrial control systems (ICS) have become more and more vulnerable and extensive research on the topic has grown.

And because more ICS systems have become connected to the Internet, all that’s needed for a bad situation is an attacker and motive.

“They are professional, organized, and well-funded. If you kick them out, they will just come back.” – Power Magazine 

According to the NCCIC/ICS-CERT Year in Review 2014 (from The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team), 245 cyber incidents were reported for ICS owners and 79 of those were in the energy sector.

Network security monitoring, the “the collection, analysis, and escalation of indications and warnings to detect and respond to intrusions,” is a way to monitor intruders on your network and avoid a breach before it’s too late.

To read more about breaches in ICS systems, read the rest of the article here.

Media we link to:

U.K. Government Urges Action As Cost Of Cyber Security Breaches Doubles – Forbes

Oil & Gas Companies Prevent Surprise Downtime Using Remote Monitoring & Diagnostics – 

 “Self-driving cars not as safe as human drivers — yet” – CBC News 

“Has Your ICS Been Breached? Are You Sure? How Do You Know?” – Power Magazine


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