TechHub: Ransomware Wreaking Global Havoc, Real-Time Asset Condition & Water Innovations

The Industrial Ransomware Wreaking Global Havoc

The recent global crisis of ransomware attacks on infrastructures and private businesses have left cyber experts and government authorities scrambling to double their efforts.

Computer systems were infected worldwide in June 2017 with a massive cyber attack similar to a recent assault that affected tens of thousands of machines internationally, causing critical infrastructures to take a major hit.

After recovering from a string of attacks that left thousands without power six months ago in December 2016, the citizens of Ukraine were faced with an even worse offense.

A.T.M.s stopped working, workers were forced to manually monitor radiation at the old, toxic Chernobyl nuclear plant due to computer failures and industrial employees worldwide were scrambling to respond to massive hacks.

“At the Chernobyl plant, the computers affected by the attack collected data on radiation levels and were not connected to industrial systems at the site, where, although all reactors have been decommissioned, huge volumes of radioactive waste remain. Operators said radiation monitoring was being done manually,” according to the New York Times.

The entirely new ransomware infected the systems of Ukraine’s power companies, metro services, airports and government ministries such as Kiev’s central post office.

The outbreak was the latest and most sophisticated in a series of attacks, using dozens of hacking tools, according to the NY Times.

The malware also had an impact internationally, causing system shutdowns of:

  • Danish shipping and transport company Moller-Maersk, resulting in an inability to process orders and its 76 terminals around the world became very congested.
  • Russian steel and oil firms Evraz and Rosneft.
  • French construction materials company Saint-Gobain.
  • Pharmaceuticals company Merck.
  • An Australian factory for chocolate giant Cadbury, resulting in halted production.

Special Agent Keith Mularski, Unit Chief of the FBI Cyber Initiative & Resource Fusion Unit.

To continue the discussion on cyber espionage and industrial cyber security, join us at Transform 2017, our annual conference in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

Special Agent Keith Mularski, Unit Chief of the FBI Cyber Initiative & Resource Fusion Unit heads the Cyber Initiative for the FBI and was part of an effort to declassify cyber threats and pass them on to industry.

Keith will walk through case studies of cyber incidents at US Steel, Alcoa and Westinghouse, revealing how the government communicated and worked together with industry to fight cyber crime.

Learn More About Transform 2017

Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut: Learn the True, Real-Time Condition of an Asset

Cars have data and analytics for when parts should be replaced, so why can’t your utility?

It can.

Like owning a car, the idea is similar for asset management. In a water treatment plant, pumps often come with a “best-by” sticker; a generic six-month date is stamped onto it, creating a time-based system for maintenance, regardless of usage.


The date becomes the driving factor for servicing rather than following data.

But there is a better way to capture condition of assets consistently, accurately and efficiently.

The solution lies in combining two systems already in place and leveraging the findings to save time and money, drastically increasing uptime.

Download the white paper to learn how to leverage digital data to effectively and accurately forecast maintenance of assets.

Download the White Paper

Water Innovation Pact Signed to Promote Smart Water Networks

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Smart Water Networks Forum (SWAN) recently formed a pact to jointly promote the development of best industry practices for sustainable smart water networks.

Smart water networks detect system leaks and manage energy through incorporating technology, according to Water Technology, an online water news publication.

“Supporting innovation is essential to the water sector, and to further development of intelligent water systems,” WEF executive director Eileen O’Neill said.

In the wake of technological advancements in the water sector, the combination of the groups’ focus on smart wastewater network management and integrated intelligent water practices will provide new skill sets and knowledge, allowing for workforce advancement.


Co-innovated smart drinking fountain by GrayMatter & DC Water.

The partnership seeks to determine common barriers of implementing intelligent water practices, technology trends and new solutions.

GrayMatter and DC Water have recently had success through a partnership of their own by co-innovating a smart sensor drinking fountain.

A drinking fountain that monitors water quality and flow in real time – giving users more confidence in the water they are drinking and saving money spent on maintenance and testing. The groundbreaking project addresses lead levels – one of the most pressing issues in water.

“This project redefines public water consumption, putting people and clean water first,” Jim Gillespie, GrayMatter CEO.

The new tech fountains have sensors that use real-time data and analytics to monitor both water quality and flow levels, sending that information to the cloud and back, alerting when water quality measurements begin to deteriorate.

The co-innovation project is just the beginning of many ways private sector innovation and independent operations are joining forces to make water operations more efficient, at a lower cost. The fountains are set to be used in public places this fall, including schools.

Learn more about the GrayMatter and DC Water water innovation project at Transform 2017:

  Learn More About Transform 2017


TechHub: Smart Drinking Fountains, Malware Threatening U.S. Power Grid, Manufacturing Profiting from IoT & More

Innovative fountains debut at nationwide water technology summit

A live demo of a new innovative smart sensor water fountain made its debut at ACE 2017, the American Water Works Association’s annual conference and exposition, in Philadelphia, PA.

GrayMatter and DC Water have created a drinking fountain that monitors water quality and flow in real time – giving users more confidence in the water they are drinking and saving money spent on maintenance and testing. The groundbreaking co-innovation project addresses lead levels – one of the most pressing issues in water.

“This project redefines public water consumption, putting people and clean water first,” Jim Gillespie, GrayMatter CEO.

The new smart sensor drinking fountain by GrayMatter & DC Water.

The new tech fountains have sensors that use real-time data and analytics to monitor both water quality and flow levels, sending that information to the cloud and back, alerting when water quality measurements begin to deteriorate.

Built with a special emphasis on lead in mind, the fountain will be used initially in schools, hospitals, day-cares and other similar institutions, according to George Hawkins, DC Water CEO and General Manager.

The co-innovation project is just the beginning of many ways private sector innovation and independent operations are joining forces to make water operations more efficient, at a lower cost. The fountains are set to be used in public places this fall, including schools.

Learn more about GrayMatter and DC Water innovations at GrayMatter’s annual conference, Transform 2017 held August 1-3 in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

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Cyber experts identify malware that could disrupt U.S. power grid

The world was awaken to the dangerous potential of utility hacks in December when one-fifth of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, was without power due to a malicious malware that infiltrated their power grid.

Now dubbed CrashOverride, the same malware that left 225,000 without power in Ukraine, is said to have the ability to be modified and corrupt U.S. power grids as well, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“U.S. utilities have been enhancing their cybersecurity, but attacker tools like this one pose a very real risk to reliable operation of power systems,” said Michael Assante, who worked at Idaho National Labs and is former chief security officer of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, where he oversaw the rollout of industry cybersecurity standards.


The most concerning — and dangerous — components of CrashOverride are the ability to manipulate the settings on electric power control systems, as well as a “wiper” component that erases the software on the computer system that controls the circuit breakers.

This lets the malware scan for critical components that operate and open circuit breakers, creating a sustained power outage, and then lock the operator out of their system.

Although it has yet to demonstrate the level of complexity needed, according to the Tribune, the malware can theoretically be modified to target other industrial control utilities such as water and gas.

To get a better understanding of your operational technology control network, download our cyber guide, which walks you through the first steps in knowing what’s on your network and has specific advice about the assessment process from our top cyber security consultants.

Download the Guide

GE Digital urges partners to seek opportunities in the Industrial Internet of Things

GE has been one of the largest brands in selling appliances, aviation systems, energy controls, and industrial solutions for years, it’s no secret.

But in 2015, the company announced a new business – GE Digital – marking an effort to bring together its software and IT capabilities, according to CRN.

“Our goal is to co-innovate with the ecosystem,” said Kevin Ichhpurani, executive vice president of global ecosystem and channels and corporate officer at GE Digital.

As GE continues to reinvent itself, according to CRN, strong partnerships are a key element in order to innovate the industrial IoT.

“I think there’s a ton of opportunities around digital transformation overall,” said Jim Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter. “But inside of that GE has many more opportunities around Brilliant Manufacturing, asset performance managements, field service transformation and cyber security. There’s just a lot of great areas for partners.”

Read more…

Study finds manufacturers are profiting from the IoT

MPI just released its 2017 study results on the Internet of Things with terrific news for the manufacturing industry, according to Industry Week.

The push to jump on the train to digitization or get left behind has been dramatic in recent years, and there’s been a sharp increase in awareness and investment in IoT technology as a result.

Now the numbers are in to prove how switching to IoT enabled products and applications are positively affecting the manufacturing industry for the better:

  • 72% report increased productivity
  • 69% report increased profitability
  • 65% report increased profitability from sales of IoT-enabled products (e.g., embedded intelligence)

GrayMatter co-founders Jim Gillespie & Carson Drake at the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs with top industry thought leaders.

Transforming operations is about connecting your equipment in the right way to eventually create a digital twin to mirror your physical operation and improve productivity. 

The biggest problem as to why manufacturers still aren’t jumping onboard is not knowing where to start.

Download our eBook to see how we’ve helped some of the biggest companies in the world overcome these obstacles and learn how to work smarter as a result:

Download the eBook

TechHub: The Internet of Energy, Digital Solutions in Water & Brilliant Manufacturing

The Internet of Energy: Big Data & Electrons

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an industry-wide term for connected and smart devices within a network of connectivity that allows them to collect and exchange data.

A new and not-so-understood concept, being dubbed the “internet of power” by Forbes, is applying the use of big data, machine learning and IoT technology to replace the one-way, current model of energy delivery.

GE Power, that supplies 30-percent of the world’s electricity, has been developing this opportunity in an effort to revolutionize the electricity industry.

“The electricity industry is still following a one-hundred-year-old model which our founder, Edison, helped to proliferate,” said Chief Digital Officer at GE Power Ganesh Bell in Forbes.

Bell believes that can change, and that the answer is to take advantage of the current grid-based generation and delivery mechanism, increasing it with the flow of data.

This will take that linear model and move it to a networked model; taking every electron, associating it with a data bit, and optimizing it.

Creating this new system of “smart” energy distribution will pave the way for innovative structures in the future such as a reliable network of energy for charging stations, aiding society in the move away from fossil fuels.

This adoption of IoT technology will transform the power industry to a $1.3 trillion field within the next 10 years, according to Forbes.

Join us in Chicago on April 10th for Digital Day to learn more about the digital, industrial transformation and connect with top thought leaders from companies like Johnson & Johnson, Gray Matter, GE and more.

Register for Digital Day

Brilliant Factory in Grove City Puts New Life in Old Engines

The engine remanufacturing plant in Grove City, PA, has been operating for 5 years, occupies 440,000-square feet and employs more than 400 people.

The facility has made a huge transformation from being a food packaging plant into being one of GE’s first seven high-tech “brilliant” factories.

Gray Matter, through a partnership with GE, has helped implement advanced technology such as sensors that allow workers to measure and see real-time data at a glance. This improves reliability, has reduced downtime by 10 to 20-percent and boosts productivity.

The Grove City plant refurbishes diesel engines, taking old engines and give them life again.

This used to require works to manually tighten bolts in a repetitive motion by hand, using machines weighing in at 40-pounds on 41,000-pound engines, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

This new technology allowed them to have an automated way to uniformly tighten the bolts in a sequence, preventing possible injury to the workers and creating a standard for all of the bolts.

It also gives plant managers the ability to call up data on a tablet or smart phone rather than touring plant operations on foot, allowing them to address problems sooner and supervise workers remotely.

Join Gray Matter on April 18th for our Toronto Seminar and learn more about digital innovations in manufacturing, water and energy.

Connect with leaders from companies such as GE Digital, CyberX, Eramosa and more for a full day of discussion, followed by an optional Blue Jays v. Red Sox game.

Register Now

Partnering Digital Solutions & IIoT Technology to Benefit Water

The ultimate goal for water and wastewater utilities is to always be safer in order to protect the communities they serve.

GE Water put out on social this week a piece written by Steve Davis, a business development leader at GE Power, Water & Process Technologies.

It discusses the problems of the world of water and how the solutions lie within industry partnerships.

According to Davis, there is no single company in the water industry that can provide connectivity, platform, software and analytics all in one.

A quote from Gray Matter VP of Water in Water Innovations: Creating a Better Living.

The solutions to these problems are exist, however are still in their infancy and fragmented.

By uniting experts within the industry, a combined commercial effort is created through a mutually beneficial relationship.

By connecting top industry thought leaders, the partnerships cultivate into innovative ideas that can excel the industry and pace of the digital revolution. It simplifies data integration, and takes away the once overwhelming feeling for customers by interconnecting platforms.

New technologies are giving people hope that they can achieve better standards of living, and Gray Matter is helping to lead the way in the water evolution.

Download our white paper Water Innovations Create Better Living to read real customer success stories of increased efficiency and profits through innovative technology.

Download the White Paper

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Digital Efficiency

The age of the industrial Internet is upon us, which means water and wastewater utilities are now taking advantage of newer technologies that are changing the landscape of our sector. With a few pieces of software, utilities can now optimize their operational performance, enhance asset reliability and accurately monitor their systems.

Some of the brightest minds on the planet are developing software for the next-generation of Industrial Internet technologies, and the potential advantages for the industry are nearly unlimited. These products allow for more intelligent management of assets by harvesting and processing massive amounts of data to produce actionable information.

The rate and complexity of this technological development can be both exciting and unnerving, even it may be unclear how everything fits together or what to do with all the available information.

So how does one even begin to incorporate it all?

Adapting to the technology can be tricky, but the first step is mentally preparing for this fundamental shift in your operational philosophy.

Getting started can be the hardest part, but it’s also the most important step in protecting your operation from unplanned downtime that can directly impact the bottom line; when optimized, these technological changes could save your organization millions of dollars.

It’s better to start with smaller changes, especially for your employees – this allows them to gradually get comfortable with new processes before adopting more advanced technologies.

Most importantly, a well-formulated plan will help your organization transform from a reactive and unpredictable operator into an efficient, intelligent and highly-profitable one where data is now your best business partner.

A Modern Utility’s Guide to Digital Efficiency

Free Event, hosted by the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, the City of Akron, and the Akron Global Water Alliance
Up to 7 CEUs Available
Nov. 12 – Cincinnati Nov. 18 – Akron

Monitor Your Assets

To kick off your journey, let’s begin with basic monitoring of your most critical assets.

This is done by equipping critical machinery with sensors and control networks that read and manage the actions of that specific piece of equipment. By collecting and simplifying the data produced, an operation starts to form a solid foundation that determines how all the separate parts of the system are supposed to function as a complete unit.

While experienced personnel might believe they are very good at catching and solving problems before they become much worse, data is much more accurate and more reliable – it never takes a vacation or sick day. In other words, data is the key to all the dirty little secrets your machines keep from you.

As the industrial process unfolds, the installed sensors pick up information about the speed of each stcomputer-components-1192101ep, the volume of liquids, the internal temperature of a pipe, and where a leak may be letting air or water into the system.

The sensors and controls are doing the heavy lifting for you, which eliminates any doubt about what is happening within the machines. Once the data is harvested and funneled to one location, engineers can now watch and focus primarily on the data from an entire operation; they can access the information in a central office or remotely.

One way to access the system data is through an online Human Machine Interface/ Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (HMI/SCADA) system at the point of control. This technology allows operators to view all systems in the process from one location, giving them greater access to real-time information and allowing them to make more informed decisions.

The other way to evaluate the data is through the cloud, which allows access from an established control center, but it also enables engineers to examine real-time data from a wireless Internet connection; this could be within the control center or out in the field. Now, any data being collected on the sensors can be analyzed at a central location, and controllers can remotely manage their assets.

Mobilize Your Workforce

Let’s take monitoring a step, or many miles, further. Using mobile applications, engineers have front line access at their fingertips from anywhere they can connect to the web.

Engineers can log in using apps on their iPad, pull up data for all systems under their watch, and monitor real-time information. Insightful and actionable information is always at the ready, so informed decisions can be made without delay, which helps avoid disastrous results and reduce unexpected

Regular maintenance and upkeep will still be required, but the technology definitely helps keep small surprises from becoming major disruptions. Think about the cost avoidance from preventing a water line break: those costs alone makes it well worth it to know ahead of time when things might be starting to break down.

Fixing problems based on data and generally catching problems before they become catastrophic is beneficial on its own, but it still requires constant attention; even manual control leaves a lot of room for error. If that worries you, then you’re ready for some advanced analytics to take you to the next level of protection.

Diagnose Your Pain Points

When analytics come into play, the benefits of intelligent data come into focus – this is when your organization begins to learn the answer to “why?

By deploying an effective analytics strategy, you can begin to understand the data at a deeper level.

Even if history wasn’t your favorite school subject, you’ll learn to love it now because your data history holds the key to preventing major disruptions and optimizing your systems in the future. Instead of physically mobilizing the maintenance team, trained personnel can check the history of the data to discover the root of the problem. Once identified, the team will be able to write a new analytic to give warnings next time a similar data trend

Predictive software works in a few ways. Some systems use cluster analysis or similarity-based modeling. Others use Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) loops to save millions of dollars in unneeded equipment wear-and-tear that can result from large-scale process variability. These systems identify normal equipment behavior as they predict future behavior. This level of intelligence takes numerous variables into account, so these highly-complex relationships (with the data that accurately predicts future states) are based on any particular variation in one or more inputs.

Here’s how it all happens.

Imagine you’re the only person who drives a given road every day to work – there’s no traffic, no lights, no turns.

This is how a machine would work if no other factors came into play, but it’s never that simple. As the area around your commute gets developed, you start to encounter stop signs, crosswalks, construction that blocks a lane or two, and (usually when you’re running late) you get stuck behind a garbage truck. Even though every day your drive is different than the last, you gradually learn from experience, so you’ll know how to react to each future interruption for a safer commute.

This is essentially what happens with advanced analytic modeling. New input variation – new equipment, new materials, new processes, temperature and seasonal changes, and so on – has an effect on the function of each dependent system. Engineers can trust that a certain fluctuation of one input will have a standard reaction in a system down the line.

For example, a drilling operation in a harsh environment with volatile weather patterns would have an established analytic model that determines what the proper internal temperature of a machine should be, compared to the outside temperature. This allows for variation in “proper” internal temperature and makes it easy to distinguish when any deviation is acceptable or if it requires further examination.

The frozen winter months in Michigan will keep internal temperatures on the low side, but it’s a different scenario when everything starts to thaw: you will know how strong the correlating rise in machine temperature is supposed to be, or if the deviation is too extreme and signifies a real threat to the system’s stability.

Learn from History

They say those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, so why limit how much history you can reference?learn-1241297-1279x1933

Water and Waterwater treatment both produce a massive amount of data that is eternally useful; limiting your amount of data only limits your ability to make informed decisions. Industrial Big Data gives you the freedom to mobilize much more information than previously possible.

With the right applications, you will be able to gather data from more sources over a greater duration of time than ever before. You can compare all this data to your real-time activities to make quicker, more informed decisions than ever imagined.

In addition to the emerging technology, cloud-based applications are a major factor with Industrial Big Data because massively scalable storage environments can collect from (and disperse to) variable locations give you the flexibility to work on more data and do it faster.

For example, solutions built on Hadoop®, can handle large data sets by clustering large numbers of low-cost commodity computers together to act as a single storage entity. Historian software allows for economical storage while maintaining rapid access speeds. These solutions scale vertically, for any velocity, as well as horizontally, for any volume and variety.

Optimize Your Operation

Now that your operation is working smarter and leaner, and you’ve built your trust in predictive analytics, you’ll be ready to move further down the efficiency continuum. More sophisticated software analytics won’t only catch problems before they happen, but they also allow you to standardize your process across all parts of the operation to optimize performance and value. Electronic instructions are provided to operators to ensure that the best methods of work are followed every time at every place, regardless of experience or training.stability-1-1240118

The most modern predictive analytics software available now allows you to move from self-defined analytics to a stage where machines learn on their own and constantly write their own analytic rules. You could call it artificial intelligence, but it’s a very realistic shift from unplanned to planned downtime, which could potentially save your company millions of dollars. Predictive-analytic software reduces maintenance costs and improves asset lifetimes to a greater degree than human monitoring could ever do.

Yes, we will still require human interaction and maintenance, but some things simply can’t be done manually. Advanced software can adapt to variations much faster than humans, where the system sends signals to automated controllers that keep everything running in optimal balance.

The point of control goes from the HMI/SCADA system (or iPad app), and becomes starts to become embedded into the controls hardware itself. The information runs in a closed-loop system that greatly reduces the human element, requiring manual interference only when a major issue arises.

Now Dive In!

When all layers of software are incorporated into your maintenance and oversight strategy, you have reached your destination: you are a lean, mean, data-using machine. By taking each step one at a time and steadily marching towards the goal of automation, your oil and gas facility will be at peak performance in no time. Without having to worry about managing emergencies or wasting money on unnecessary procedures, think how much better your job will be at a safer, efficient and more cost-effective operation.

About the Author

AlanHAlan is the Vice President of Water/Wastewater at Gray Matter Systems. Alan has over 20 years experience working in water/wastewater and is an expert is water distribution information technologies. Alan is a frequent speaker at industry events around the country.

This content appeared originally as part of “Damned If We Don’t!: Ideas for Accelerating Change Around Water” and is being reproduced with the permission of its author, Alan Hinchman.

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