CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, has named Cisco as a Finalist for the 2023 CRN Tech Innovator Awards. Cisco is being recognized for Cisco Secure Equipment Access Plus in the Cloud Tools and Management category.

Cisco Secure Equipment Access was created to meet the needs of Operational Technology (OT) teams responsible for managing industrial assets. Our customers and partners tell us how challenging it is to provide maintenance access to remote assets without increasing cybersecurity risk. Our customers need to provide access to critical configuration and upgrades, without allowing bad actors to connect to the organization’s industrial equipment.

Frequently, to allow remote access, equipment vendors install their own remote access gateways onto their customers’ industrial networks. This approach creates three significant problems:

  1. It adds complexity to the network. Now there is an additional piece of hardware to configure, upgrade, and fix when it breaks down.
  2. More critically, this introduces cybersecurity risks. Frequently, the new vendor remote access gateway bypasses the customer’s firewall. So, IT no longer has confidence that their cyber security policies are in place, and no visibility of who is connecting to their industrial equipment.
  3. Adding these additional gateways is cumbersome, and difficult to scale. Setting up point hardware in each customer location is costly, time consuming, and carries the risk of incorrect configuration.

With this in mind, Cisco created Secure Equipment Access. Customers can use this service to remotely configure and maintain connected equipment in a variety of use cases from manufacturing to connected roadways. The solution addresses each of the above problems easily and effectively. The software is installed on Cisco industrial switches and routers themselves, so there are no additional point hardware solutions to manage. And because it runs on the industrial networking hardware, IT can be confident that any access to connected equipment passes through the IT firewall. So, the security risk is controlled as well.

And deployment at scale is straightforward, because Secure Equipment Access is delivered from the cloud using Cisco IoT Operations Dashboard. This means that it’s easy to install and control across the industrial network. And it is easy to use, helping to improve operational efficiency. Remote workers simply log into a cloud portal that grants them access to specific devices, not to the entire network. All they need is a web browser, and for advanced configuration tasks, they can use their usual desktop applications. For additional security, controls are available to ensure that workers can only log in at pre-defined times and multi-factor authentication (MFA) can be used to verify their identity.

Watch this video to learn more about how Cisco Secure Equipment Access helps OT improve efficiency without increasing cybersecurity risk or complexity. And stay tuned as we share details of more innovations in Secure Equipment Access and in the rest or our industrial IoT portfolio in the coming months.

For more insights into how DOTs can use Secure Equipment Access with Cisco’s industrial IoT network devices, register for our webinar on September 14, Cybersecurity for Intelligent Roadways.

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Angela Murphy

Senior Product Marketing Manager

Cisco IoT