Cisco to buy IoT security, management firm Sentryo

Buying Sentryo will give Cisco support for anomaly and real-time threat detection for the industrial internet of things.

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IDG Worldwide

Looking to expand its IoT security and management offerings Cisco plans to acquire Sentryo, a company based in France that offers anomaly detection and real-time threat detection for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) networks.

Founded in 2014 Sentryo products include ICS CyberVision – an asset inventory, network monitoring and threat intelligence platform – and CyberVision network edge sensors, which analyze network flows.

“We have incorporated Sentryo’s edge sensor and our industrial networking hardware with Cisco’s IOx application framework,”  wrote Rob Salvagno, Cisco vice president of Corporate Development and Cisco Investments in a blog about the proposed buy.

 “We believe that connectivity is foundational to IoT projects and by unleashing the power of the network we can dramatically improve operational efficiencies and uncover new business opportunities. With the addition of Sentryo, Cisco can offer control systems engineers deeper visibility into assets to optimize, detect anomalies and secure their networks.”

Gartner wrote of Sentryo’s system: “ICS CyberVision product provides visibility into its customers'' OT networks in way all OT users will understand, not just technical IT staff. With the increased focus of both hackers and regulators on industrial control systems, it is vital to have the right visibility of an organization’s OT. Many OT networks not only are geographically dispersed, but also are complex and consist of hundreds of thousands of components.”

Sentryo's ICS CyberVision lets enterprises ensure continuity, resilience and safety of their industrial operations while preventing possible cyberattacks, said Nandini Natarajan , industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "It automatically profiles assets and communication flows using a unique 'universal OT language' in the form of tags, which describe in plain text what each asset is doing. ICS CyberVision gives anyone immediate insights into an asset's role and behaviors; it offers many different analytic views leveraging artificial intelligence algorithms to let users deep-dive into the vast amount of data a typical industrial control system can generate. Sentryo makes it easy to see important or relevant information."

In addition, Sentryo's platform uses deep packet inspection (DPI) to extract information from communications among industrial assets, Natarajan said.  This DPI engine is deployed through an edge-computing architecture that can run either on Sentryo sensor appliances or on network equipment that is already installed. Thus, Sentryo can embed visibility and cybersecurity features in the industrial network rather than deploying an out-of-band monitoring network, Natarajan said.

Sentryo’s technology will broaden Cisco’s overarching IoT plan.  In January it launched a family of switches, software, developer tools and blueprints to meld IoT and industrial networking with intent-based networking (IBN) and classic IT security, monitoring and application-development support.

The new platforms can be managed by Cisco’s DNA Center, and Cisco IoT Field Network Director, letting customers fuse their IoT and industrial-network control with their business IT world.

DNA Center is Cisco’s central management tool for enterprise networks, featuring automation capabilities, assurance setting, fabric provisioning and policy-based segmentation. It is also at the center of the company’s IBN initiative offering customers the ability to automatically implement network and policy changes on the fly and ensure data delivery. The IoT Field Network Director is software that manages multiservice networks of Cisco industrial, connected grid routers and endpoints.

Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's IoT business group said the company expects the Sentryo technology to help IoT customers in a number of ways:

Network-enabled, passive DPI capabilities to discover IoT and OT assets, and establish communication patterns between devices and systems. Sentryo’s sensor is natively deployable on Cisco’s IOx framework and can be built into the industrial network these devices run on instead of adding additional hardware.

As device identification and communication patterns are created, Cisco will integrate this with DNA Center and Identity Services Engine(ISE) to allow customers to easily define segmentation policy. This integration will allow OT teams to leverage IT security teams’ expertise to secure their environments without risk to the operational processes.

With these IoT devices lacking modern embedded software and security capabilities, segmentation will be the key technology to allow communication from operational assets to the rightful systems, and reduce risk of cyber security incidents like we saw with WannaCry and Norsk Hydro.

According to Crunchbase, Sentryo has $3.5M in estimated revenue annually and it competes most closely with Cymmetria, Team8, and Indegy.  The acquisition is expected to close before the end of Cisco’s Q1 Fiscal Year 2020 -- October 26, 2019.  Financial details of the acquisition were not detailed.

Sentryo is Cisco’s second acquisition this year.  It bought Singularity for its network analytics technology in January. In 2018 Cisco bought six companies including Duo security software.

 

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