Siemens and Awen Collective collaboration offers SME manufacturers affordable cyber security solutions

Posted on 10 Aug 2022 by The Manufacturer

Siemens has partnered with cyber security software company Awen Collective to develop a new, accessible and affordable, managed OT security solution for SME manufacturers.

The collaboration will allow businesses to buy into a managed security solution, protecting any networked, internet-connected technology starting from £10,000. Ordinarily, setting up and maintaining a security operations centre can cost a business hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The solution is built on Awen Collective’s Dot software, which has been developed with the support of Siemens, and performs asset and vulnerability discovery on operational technology (OT), which covers everything from coffee machines to large industrial robots, including ICS, SCADA and IIoT systems.

According to the UK Government: Cybersecurity Breaches Survey 2022 half of small businesses (48%) and six in 10 medium-sized businesses (59%) report having been impacted by some kind of cyber breach or attack in the last 12 months[1]. 

Digitalisation and the growing networking of machines and industrial systems also mean that operational technology (OT) is at an increased risk of cyber attack. Indeed, new cybercrime incidents are reported every day by UK businesses.

Despite this, many SMEs do not prioritise cybersecurity support, thinking that they either cannot afford it or do not need it.

The project is to be piloted in the North West with the backing from a consortium of North West-based organisations including the University of Manchester, the University of Salford, the North West Cyber Resilience Centre, BRIM and IN4.0 Group, before looking to expand across the rest of the UK.

LtoR Paul Dennis, CEO of Awen Collective, and Paul Hingley, Product Solution & Security Officer UK and Ireland for Siemens Digital Industries

LtoR Paul Dennis, CEO of Awen Collective, and Paul Hingley, Product Solution & Security Officer UK and Ireland for Siemens Digital Industries

Paul Hingley, Product Solution & Security Officer UK and Ireland for Siemens Digital Industries, said: “Siemens has been working with the North West Cyber Resilience Centre since its conception. We as an industry have partnered with law enforcement and academia as such alliances are vital to the way the digital industry will evolve in the years to come. 

“Cyber security sits at the centre of digital transformation, understanding and adoption of it into the industrial control concepts is a must now.

“Partnering with Awen and the consortium we will answer some of the concerns and challenges around cyber security the industry faces by delivering an IT and OT Operational Response Centre. This will enable SMEs to invest in a service that will provide cyber alarms when their control systems become compromised by cyber-attacks. 

“The concept we have developed with the consortium has the potential to provide low-cost protection across the office and manufacturing space. It is a unique offering that will allow companies to build their cyber resilience while developing their business impact knowledge – a major step forward in improving the cyber maturity of our UK industry.”

Daniel Lewis, founder and Executive Chairman at Awen Collective, based in Wales, said: “Our software solutions reflect what the market is telling us. No single product is a ‘silver bullet’ – we must genuinely work together. 

“We are very pleased to be building this partnership with Siemens to deliver quality solutions that help prevent the very real threat of cyber crime. In essence, we’re giving industrial organisations the capability to discover vulnerabilities that they may not have been aware that they had, and the tools to do something about them.

“Cyber security in Wales is thriving. We’re growing a strong community through one of the largest clusters in the UK and it has really laid the foundation for us to be able to work on major projects such as this, with forward-thinking businesses like Siemens. We can’t wait for what’s to come.”

Awen Collective’s success and development of Dot was made possible, in part, by advisory and grant support received from the Welsh Government, including through Business Wales’ Accelerated Growth Programme. The business is also closely partnered with Cardiff University, University of Wales Trinity St David’s and the University of South Wales and has taken on a number of graduates from the Cardiff region.

Welsh Government Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Wales boasts world-class cyber security expertise with an outstanding and committed tech labour market which is truly innovative. This makes Wales an increasingly attractive location for global businesses like Siemens to develop and deliver new products and services.

“I am delighted Siemens has chosen to partner with Awen Collective on this important project. I very much hope many more businesses find the new solution strengthens and protects their business practices against the increasingly growing threat cyber crime poses to individuals, businesses and the wider economy.”

Siemens applies IEC 62443 the highest industry standards globally for industrial cyber security. It is also the creator of the Charter of Trust at the 2018 Munich Security Conference which has multi-national corporations such as AES, Airbus, Allianz, Atos, Cisco, Daimler, IBM and Dell Technologies among many other companies as signatories.

Cyber-attacks on Industrial Control Systems (ICS), which help run OT, can interrupt production, damage physical assets, and even result in injury or death to employees and public alike.

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