Striving to make Smart Cities Smarter About Network Security

Onclave Networks, Inc. recently won the Actuator Award in the Inaugural Smart City Works Innovation Challenge
Technology is transforming every aspect of our lives.
How we manage important daily experiences including traffic, water use, energy consumption, waste, medical devices, education, agriculture and retail is all increasingly being done by new devices and systems that run through our networks.

We collect, share, analyze and use enormous volumes of data each day with the goal of living smarter and better.

The term “smart cities” is used to characterize those urban areas all across the world that strive to replace concrete highways with information superhighways. Cities that don’t just use data to manage and deliver services, but gather insights to enhance the quality of our experiences, the performance of people and services around us, and increase our connection to the city and its people.

Of course, we know that any business or community that is highly driven by technology is a prime target for cyberattack.

Buildings and cities are caught in the crosshairs for cyber attacks and ransomware by sophisticated and well-financed hackers, many of which are being driven by hostile nation states or criminal organizations.

Smart Cities initiatives and hackathons offer an opportunity to showcase how innovators and private sector companies can provide much needed protection for cities and their citizens.

The current challenge

Protecting our cities and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks has become complex, expensive and extremely dangerous. Addressing this problem requires an understanding of the multiple technologies used to “run” cities because they require different approaches and tools to keep them safe.

In recent decades, Information Technologies (IT), designed primarily for human and data communications, have matured. Despite their maturity, we remain hundreds of days behind in finding and mitigating cyber breaches.

Operational Technologies (OT) – like those used to deliver water, power, traffic, emergency services, etc. are older, too expensive to replace and more diverse than IT. As a result – OT has lagged in cybersecurity. New technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) systems and devices are part of the OT family, but just because they are newer – does not mean they are any more secure. Often these devices have operating systems that are incompatible with existing IT security solutions. This means they are not protected, and in some cases – not even visible on a network.

Hence, we must acknowledge that OT and IoT systems and devices also can be held hostage or taken down and result in the incredible losses – not just money, but lives. Protecting these valuable, yet vulnerable assets that help make-up or support our critical infrastructure is mandatory and requires a new, non-IT approach.

Smarter cities need to turn to Zero Trust+ networks

Helping cities get smarter about network security is one of Onclave’s primary missions.

Onclave’s Zero Trust+ platform provides National Security grade network protection for OT and IoT, placing all of these device and system endpoints into cryptographically secure enclaves, which effectively puts them out of reach from hackers and cybercriminals.

Recently, Onclave won the Actuator Award in a Smart City Challenge sponsored by Smart City Works, a nonprofit organization with a mission to harness the power of digital technology to create smart, sustainable, and resilient communities. The event also was sponsored by Refraction, a dynamic coworking community serving the business leaders, creatives, and philanthropists of Northern Virginia.

This event featured a month-long hackathon and 49 teams, and was filled with innovators looking to help cities find high-tech and digital solutions to housing problems, broadband access, improving education, enhancing public safety and secure critical infrastructure.

In making the award announcement, Smart City Works co-founder David Heyman called Onclave a company that is “making a secure digital society possible.”

How do we accomplish this?

Onclave makes smart cities smarter and more secure by deploying a national-grade network platform based on the methods and technology used by the Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) to protect communications related to U.S. National Security.

The technology we developed is powerful and pioneering. In the field of Zero Trust solutions in the market today, Onclave actually does not just align to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) guidelines for business and government – we helped drive their creation.

When implemented as a network for a city government and its different service providers, the Onclave Platform creates cryptographically separate networks and “zones” where OT and IT can run safely and securely. Our approach takes overly complex IT-based networks and turns them into simple, secure networks and zones that accelerate the path to Zero Trust and allow enterprise teams to optimize resources. Our solution runs invisibly across the infrastructure and Internet making, impervious to hackers and unauthorized insiders – even over 5G.

“We are certainly excited about winning the Actuator Award,” Onclave CEO Don Stroberg said recently. “Our goal is to continue to support Smart City initiatives and work with IT security and network administrators who are under increasing duress to help bring them and their citizens some peace of mind.”

Onclave will be participating in the upcoming Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo on April 13-14. For more details, visit: https://spring.smartcitiesconnect.org