Trend Micro’s IoT Joint Venture Offers a New Approach to Tackling Weaknesses in Cybersecurity

Trend Micro, an IT security company with U.S. headquarters in Irving, has partnered with Moxa to launch TXOne Networks. The joint venture will focus on security needs present in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) environments, including smart manufacturing, smart cities, smart energy, and more.

Keeping intruders armed with the newest methods out of older industrial systems is a growing challenge, with power utilities only one of the targets. Trend Micro, an IT security company with U.S. headquarters in Irving, is introducing a new response to the challenge.

Computer systems everywhere are susceptible to malware such as WannaCry and NotPetya, which spread in an untargeted way across thousands of computers worldwide in 2016 and 2017, and more recently hackers have deliberately attacked and gained access to energy utilities in the U.S. and Europe. Newer devices may simply need updates or patches installed, but that task can be inconvenient, especially in a large-scale industrial operation, and older devices may have little or no security protection at all.

Even “air-gapped” systems, which aren’t directly connected to the external internet, are vulnerable when they’re connected together on an internal network, since malware can be introduced from a USB stick or laptop and then spread across the internal network. Traditional methods such as firewalls and internal monitoring aren’t always enough to meet the increasingly sophisticated threats facing industrial technology. And as businesses adopt the Industry 4.0 set of automation, data exchange, and manufacturing technologies, the systems needing defense are themselves becoming more complicated.

The cybersecurity solutions provider Trend Micro Inc., in a joint venture with industrial communications and networking experts Moxa, has developed a new approach. TXOne Networks, as the new venture is called, will detect and block common exploits, provide virtual patch protection, and provide protocol whitelisting. (Whitelisting is simply a list of approved contacts; any software, such as malware, trying to contact another device that’s not on the list will simply be blocked.) The TXOne Networks solution embeds software-based security methods in certified industrial-grade hardware that can withstand the temperature variations often found in manufacturing environments. The system is controlled from a single, centrally placed console.

“In a world where attacks are getting more persistent and sophisticated, while organizations are struggling with skills shortage and alert fatigue, these two groups are joining forces to successfully secure enterprises around the globe,” said Dr. Terence Liu, general manager for TXOne Networks.

Summarizing the appeal of the new approach, Liu explains, “TXOne Networks shelters both the hardware and software advancements of Industry 4.0 firms, and our defense-in-depth capabilities set our solution apart from others.”

The new approach wasn’t devised out of the blue, but resulted from a survey of conditions in the field.

According to Eva Chen, CEO for Trend Micro (the majority partner in TXOne Networks): “We listened to the needs of both leading manufacturers and critical infrastructure operators, then harvested the best intellectual property. The challenges are complex, and the new tools provide a customized answer that goes beyond traditional security solutions, the company said. 

Trend Micro, a Tokyo-based multinational corporation, was founded in 1988 to develop antivirus software. It has since grown to become a market leader in hybrid cloud security, network defense, small business security, and endpoint security, with more than 6,000 employees in over 50 countries. The company’s website is here.

The TXOne Networks intrusion prevention system, which is currently in the beta stage, was introduced last week at the Hannover Messe 2019 industrial trade fair, which ran April 1-5 in Hanover, Germany.

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