infoTECH Feature

November 01, 2018

Dispersive Networks Hopes to Be the Future of Secure Networking

The December 2015 Ukraine power grid cyber attack was the first successful attack on a power grid and this event gave rise to Dispersive Networks.

According to Wikipedia, the attack was complex, consisting of the following steps:

  • Prior compromise of corporate networks using spear-phishing emails with BlackEnergy malware;
  • Seizing SCADA under control, remotely switching substations off;
  • Disabling/destroying IT infrastructure components (uninterruptible power suppliesmodems, RTUs, commutators);
  • Destruction of files stored on servers and workstations with the KillDisk malware;
  • Denial-of-Service attack on call-center to deny consumers up-to-date information on the blackout.
  • In total, up to 73 MWh of electricity was not supplied (or 0.015% of daily electricity consumption in the Ukraine).

Cyber attacks on the energy distribution companies took place during an ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war and are attributed to a Russian advanced persistent threat group known as "Sandworm".

If there is any good news that emerged as a result, it was people trying to find ways to prevent such attacks in the future. 

In an exclusive interview with Ed Wood, CEO at Dispersive Networks, we learned how his company took the knowledge of this attack and used it as the basis of their technology, which uses tech principles from telecom-like spread-spectrum to take networking to the next level. According to Ed, their goal was to make the most secure, resilient, highest performing programmable network for mission-critical applications.

The Dispersive Virtualized Network is obfuscated, it can detect intrusion as well as contention and respond accordingly. The network is unpredictable, meaning adversaries will have a hard time bringing it down or successfully degrading it via DDoS attacks.

Going forward we will see the application of analytic and AI to the solution to make it even more robust and resilient. We will also see their virtual network software embedded in more devices over time.

Ed explained they are often replacing expensive private lines in mission-critical applications from utilities to financial markets among others. As networks become more critical and attackers continue to target them for various reasons, existing infrastructure needs a major upgrade. Dispersive wants to be that upgrade.

For more on the company, see:

Edited by Erik Linask

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