Honeywell Secure Media Exchange Protects Against USB-Borne Threats

April 5, 2017
SMX provides a way for industrial plants to use USB-removable media and manage USB ports.

Honeywell Process Solutions introduces Secure Media Exchange.

Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) introduces Secure Media Exchange (SMX) designed to help industrial sites balance productivity and cyber security demands. SMX protects facilities against current and emerging USB-borne threats without the need for complex procedures or restrictions that impact operations or industrial personnel, according to Honeywell.

Malware spread through USB devices – used by employees and contractors to patch, update and exchange data with onsite control and computer systems – is a key risk for industrial control systems. It was the second leading threat to these systems in 2016, according to BSI publications, and uncontrolled USBs have reportedly taken power plants offline, downed turbine control workstations and caused raw sewage floods, among other industrial accidents.

Currently, many plants either ban USBs, which is difficult to enforce and significantly reduces productivity, or rely on traditional IT malware scanning solutions, which are difficult to maintain in an industrial control facility and provide limited protection. These solutions fail to protect process control networks against the latest threats and offer no means to address targeted or zero-day attacks, according to Honeywell.

Honeywell’s SMX provides multi-layered protection for managing USB security, letting users plug in and check devices for approved use in the facility. Contractors “check-in” their USB drive by plugging it into an SMX Intelligence Gateway. The ruggedized industrial device analyzes files using a variety of techniques included with Honeywell’s Advanced Threat Intelligence Exchange (ATIX), a secure, hybrid-cloud threat analysis service.

SMX Client Software installed on plant Windows devices provides another layer of protection, controlling which USB devices are allowed to connect, preventing unverified USB removable media drives from being mounted and stopping unverified files from being accessed. SMX also logs USB device connectivity and file access, providing a valuable audit capability. Managed and maintained directly by Honeywell, SMX helps prevent the spread of malware through removable media, stops unverified files being read by Windows hosts, and, through the private ATIX connection, provides continually updated threat information and advanced analytics to help detect advanced, targeted and zero-day malware.

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