Siemens has partnered with Welsh cybersecurity software company Awen Collective, collaborating with the North West Cyber Resilience Centre, University of Manchester, Salford University, BRIM and IN4.0 Group to develop a new, accessible and affordable, managed OT security solution for small and medium enterprises.
The project has secured major backing from a consortium of North West-based academic, policing and business advocacy organisations who will support the project as it rolls out in the region, before looking to expand into Wales and across the rest of the UK.
Around half of small businesses (48%) and six in ten medium-sized businesses (59%) report having been impacted by some kind of cyber breach or attack in the last 12 months. 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.
Katie Gallagher, co-founder of North West Cyber Resilience Centre:
“We’re really pleased to partner with Siemens and Awen Collective to be able to offer this new OT security solution to businesses across the North West."
“There are increasingly sophisticated threats to cyber security within operational technology so we will continue to work with businesses and our partners to help all businesses protect themselves against cyber attacks.
“Businesses often don’t realise the potentially devastating effects of a cyber attack on their business until it’s too late, so our work begins at educating business owners around the threats, as well as offering advice and security solutions.”
Siemens’ partnership with Awen will allow North West 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. It performs Asset & Vulnerability Discovery on Operational Technology (OT), which would encompass everything from coffee machines, to large industrial robots; including ICS, SCADA and IIoT systems.
Paul Hingley, Product Solution & Security Officer UK and Ireland for Siemens Digital Industries:
“Siemens has been working with the North West Cyber Resilience Centre since its conception. We as 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 said:
“Our software solutions reflect what the market is telling us. No single product is a ‘silver bullet’ – we must genuinely work together, and we are very pleased to be building this partnership with Siemens to deliver quality solutions that help prevent the very real threat of cybercrime. 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.
“Cybersecurity 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 were 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, the University of Wales Trinity St David's and the University of South Wales and has taken on several 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 cybercrime poses to individuals, businesses and the wider economy.”
Awen Collective’s Dot will be demonstrated at #Transform2022, alongside discussion with key members of the consortium. The conference is set to take place between Tuesday 12th – Wednesday 13th July at Manchester Central.