Honeywell releases the latest Secure Media Exchange (SMX), a cybersecurity offering to protect industrial operators against new and emerging Universal Serial Bus (USB) threats. SMX now protects against a broad range of malicious USB device attacks, which disrupt operations through misuse of legitimate USB functions or unauthorized device actions. The protections complement additional SMX enhancements to malware detection, utilizing machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve detection by up to 40% above traditional anti-virus solutions according to a Honeywell study.
USB devices include flash drives and charging cables, as well as many other USB-attached devices. They represent a primary attack vector into industrial control system (ICS) environments, and existing security controls typically focus on the detection of malware on these USBs. While important, research shows an emerging trend toward new categories of USB threats that manipulate the capabilities of the device standard to circumvent traditional security controls and directly attack ICS. Categorically, these malicious USB device attacks represent 75% of today’s known USB attack types, a clear indication of the shift toward new attack methodologies. Because these attacks can weaponize common USB peripherals — like keyboards, speakers — effective protection requires sophisticated device validation and authorization.
SMX protection includes Honeywell’s Trusted Response User Substantiation Technology (TRUST), which introduces a human validation and authentication step to ensure that USB devices are what they claim to be. TRUST helps prevent unwanted or suspicious devices from introducing new threats into the industrial control environment. In the case of USB storage devices, additional layers of advanced malware detection technology are used to further protect against malware, including machine learning and AI to improve detection of increasingly complex malware, including zero days and evasive malware.