Its hard to believe that there is still a huge untapped sector out there begging to be sold security hardware, but there is.
News arrived this week that a small, little-known German outfit called Innominate has launched a firewall specifically designed to meet the needs of this sector. Its called industrial computing in business jargon, and according to the company it suffers many of the same security problems that bedevil mainstream computer systems.
Stop and think about it. Little remarked upon, but computers now keep the balls juggling on all sorts of devices from point-of-sale terminals and cash ATMs, to industrial machines and robots that would once have been standalone. These sit on Ethernet networks, deliberately run obsolete versions of Windows to ensure stability, and are remotely managed and controlled via IP.
They perform highly specialised tasks but are cobbled together from mainstream computing ingredients, a design that makes them susceptible to the same forms of attack as other computers.
Innominates mGuard might be a firewalling system that lives in an unfamiliar environment, but it is incredibly similar to any other firewall. It runs Kaspersky anti-virus, runs a VPN and is SNMP-manageable. It will even live in a blade configuration inside a 19 inch rack.
It attempts to cloak itself so it cant be poked at by passing would-be hackers. The idea of a security device on a critical piece of machinery being taken down by an outsider or a piece of malware is too terrifying to contemplate. According to the company, a large German car company had to shut down operations in one factory for a day-and-a-half at the time of the infamous SQL Slammer outbreak of 2003.
The only odd thing about this market is that more companies havent found their way into it.