Israeli Tech Last Line of Defense for Power Plant Cyber Attacksby
Aperio AI detects false fingerprints behind erroneous data
Company backed by PayPal cyber experts and top antiterrorist
In Ocean’s Eleven, George Clooney’s gang inserts a recording into a casino security camera system so the guard sees only a video loop from the day before, camouflaging a heist from the safe.
In a 2015 cyber attack on a Ukraine power plant, hackers did much the same, playing around for months with the electricity company’s network, disconnecting emergency backup systems and sending false information back through the servers to the control room.
Aperio Systems Ltd., an emerging startup in Israel backed by the founders of PayPal’s cybersecurity lab in the country, believes it could help prevent such attempts succeeding. It went public Tuesday with technology it says can detect false information before it can do harm, alerting managers to a breach or turbine tampering.
“We assume the worst, that the attacker already took full control over the operational network,” Michael Shalyt, Aperio’s vice president of product, said in an interview. Aperio monitors the data going through a utility’s servers, looking for clues to indicate an inauthentic data dump, he said.
“Think of Aperio as a polygraph for process data,” said Yevgeni Nogin, the company’s chief executive officer, who spent more than nine years in the Israeli military’s elite intelligence and R&D unit. “It detects when your system is lying to you.”
Aperio’s systems are installed at several sites in Israel and one in Italy, centered on power generators. The company says its technology can prevent attacks like the hypothetical scenario described in a 2015 report by Lloyd’s insurers, in which 15 U.S. states and Washington D.C. are plunged into darkness after hackers shut down parts of the energy grid, leaving 93 million people without power.
The incidence of detected attacks on power and utility companies soared 93 percent in 2015, PricewaterhouseCoopers reported in its 2016 Global State of Information Security Survey. Israel’s cybersecurity industry numbered nearly 430 companies at the end of 2015, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he aspires to make Israel a “global cyber greenhouse.”
Doron Bergerbest-Eilon, an investor in Aperio who was a senior official at the Israel Security Agency, said the company’s data forgery protection technology for utilities is unique and “key to keeping critical infrastructure safe from attacks.”
Aperio has raised $2 million and is currently talking to venture capital funds about another round, said Shalyt.