“Security and safety have always been on a colliding course in this sector, and with this partnership, we’re the first to be offering both to end-users and vendors,” says Tyler Williams, president of Wurldtech Security Technologies Inc. (www.wurldtech.com), of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Williams’ reference is to a strategic partnership announced on March 17 between Wurldtech, a provider of industrial cyber security testing and certification solutions, and exida (www.exida.com), a Sellersville, Pa.-based provider of functional safety products and certification services. The agreement integrates Wurldtech’s Achilles cyber security certification program into exida’s safety service portfolio, and establishes a foundation for joint development of future cyber security and safety certifications.
For process control systems vendors who must have their products certified, as well as for end-users who put those products to use in their plants, the agreement creates one-stop shopping, the two companies say. Though Wurldtech and exida remain separate, each will become a “center of excellence for security and safety information, and best practices and trusted advice on both,” as Williams puts it.
“Process control system operators want to minimize risk and maximize uptime, and suppliers want to be first to market with certified, reliable systems,” says John Cusimano, exida director of Security Services. “By bringing the safety and cyber security certification processes together, operators and suppliers have a single source for all of their certification needs, and that positively impacts the bottom line.”
exida has been certifying products for a number of years to the International Electrotechnical Commission’s IEC 61508 safety standard, in particular, according to Cusimano. Under terms of the partnership, exida personnel will be trained in the practice of security certification, and will essentially become a certified partner for Wurldtech’s Achilles Level 1 cyber security certification, says Williams. Likewise, Wurldtech personnel will be trained in safety certification practices.
“In addition to being able to offer the Achilles certification, we also look forward to working together to further the development of cyber security and safety certifications, and to really look at the intersection where safety and security come together, to make sure that when we certify a product for safety, that we’re not overlooking security aspects, and vice versa” notes Cusimano. That intersection is one that has been underserved in the past, he says. “We’re going to move as quickly as we can to get the cross training done so we can hit the ground running with this,” Cusimano notes.
In addition to offering combined safety/cyber security certification services, Wurldtech is looking toward the partnership to help push cyber security certification into new process arenas. The Achilles certification program was launched in 2007, and has been accepted by a number of major controls vendors as a cyber security benchmark for distributed control systems, says Williams. But customers have been asking for an expansion of Achilles to include new categories including control applications, industrial networking infrastructure, and both operator integration and vendor development processes.
As Wurldtech looked to develop a road map for this migration, it found a corollary in safety, which already has a set of well-established best practices, certification criteria and standards, Williams explains. So the link-up with exida, which was looking to expand into security, was a natural, he says. Wurldtech announced a strategic agreement last fall with another safety services firm, Kenexis Consulting Corp. (www.kenexis.com), Columbus, Ohio, by which Kenexis is blending safety assessment services with Wurldtech’s former security assessment services, which have been spun off, says Williams.
He likes it
The Wurldtech/exida partnership takes effect immediately, and is already drawing favorable comment from at least one process industry vendor who was quoted in the press release announcing the agreement.
“Having worked with both Wurldtech and exida since their inception on independent certification efforts, we see the value that this partnership will bring in being able to focus our certification activities,” said Bob Huba, DeltaV security architect at Emerson Process Management, the Austin, Texas-based process control supplier.
“Having a single certification process for safety and security is consistent with our integrated approach to DeltaV and DeltaV SIS (Emerson products),” Huba said. “Combining our product security certification activities with our safety certification process, we can now introduce new versions of our systems without the overlap of going to several locations. That will certainly help get products to market faster and more efficiently.”
Kenexis Consulting Corp.
Wurldtech Security Technologies Inc.