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28 Jun 2023

Project Orthos

Senetas Europe Limited Stand: M71

Critical infrastructure systems consist of complex IT and (OT) networks and subsystems.  These must be connected securely to gather operational information and to allow engineers or OEMs to access their, and only their, subsystems for maintenance and repair.  A combined seamless IT and OT encryption overlay assures this in a vendor and protocol agnostic manner. This infrastructure is often a mix of modern and legacy systems not necessarily built with security in mind.  Even modern OT systems often use completely outdated protocol versions which offer no inherent security at all.

Nowadays IT networks defence use detection systems to counter the increase in sophisticated targeted attacks.  Precisely because of this heavily slanted detective nature, the solutions do not cater well for OT security requirements. Compared to IT, OT face significant challenges when attempting to translate traditional IT Cyber controls into this space. There are issues around Vulnerability Management, Configuration Hardening as well as Identity and Access Management. 

Alternative thinking is required to allow secure functioning of, and access to, vulnerable OT devices in a converged hostile environment. Specialized OT Cybersecurity solutions do respond to this challenge; however, many contenders rely on an out of band (monitoring only) approach.

Project Orthos is a response to a UK Government innovation call to ‘Reduce Cyber Attack Surface’. It is an inter-company collaboration using the core competences of each to deliver a unique and compelling solution to the threats faced by (mobile) critical infrastructure in general and military ships in particular. Ships in this context can be considered as mobile or stationary environments possessing complex infrastructure. 

Orthos is entirely based on standard encryption. It integrates quantum resilient encryption with an OT cyber-physical security suite including the necessary interfaces and optional management.  The solution is secure-by-design allowing for detective and protective modes, utilising Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence for analysis and visibility. Orthos shields OT communications inside and utilises certified encryption and key agreement processes eliminating any vulnerabilities in the OT equipment which threat actors might exploit.

Intrusions will not just be detected but will be prevented and/or isolated. Although, in-path is the desired mode (providing active protection), it is also possible to run in mirror-mode, preserving the normal data path. In this case the full in-path capability remains available in case of a cyber-attack.

The solution may be deployed on a variety of hardware, ranging from ruggedized high temperature, high humidity, dual power, DIN rail mountable devices to cost effective hardware suitable for dirty environments. In Project Orthos components such as the cloaks, super-nodes, encryption, and controller can also run as virtual appliances.

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