We are thrilled to announce that Cisco Secure Equipment Access was named “IoT Security Innovation of the Year” in the 2024 IoT Breakthrough Awards.

As customers are modernizing their industrial networks, they are also increasing their exposure to cyber threats. As more devices are connected to automate industrial processes, more suppliers and contractors need access to the network to help configure, maintain, and troubleshoot these advanced systems.

In many organizations, machine builders, maintenance contractors, or the operations teams themselves have installed their own remote access solutions: cellular gateways or remote access software that IT is not controlling. On the other hand, Virtual Private Networks (VPN) have drawbacks of being always-on solutions with all-or-nothing access to OT assets and requiring complex firewall rules or additional tools to control what remote users have access to.

The shift to zero trust network access for OT

With Secure Equipment Access (SEA), Cisco is bringing much needed innovations to meet the critical needs for more secure and simpler industrial remote access. Cisco SEA brings the benefits of Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solutions that enterprises are now widely adopting, to industrial workflows.

ZTNA is a security service that verifies users and grants access only to specific resources at specific times. Policy definition and enforcement across all sites are done in a central Cloud service, greatly simplifying remote access management to empower operations administrators to easily create credentials and avoid delays that could impact production uptime.

In a ZTNA architecture, the gateway establishes a connection to a Trust Broker that enforces access policy. Cisco SEA embeds the gateway software into Cisco industrial switches and routers, massively reducing deployment costs and complexity. There is no point gateway hardware to source, install, and manage. Enabling remote access is just a software feature to activate in your Cisco industrial network equipment.

Check out the first blog in the ZTNA series to learn more about how this unique ZTNA architecture is addressing the specific constraints of remote access in industrial networks. Read the blog.

Control the who, what, how, and when of remote access

As a ZTNA solution, Cisco SEA starts with a default deny posture and grants access only to specific resources at specific times based on identity and context policies. In addition to restricting access to specific assets and schedules, it can also restrict the access method remote technicians can use to log into an OT asset. If full IP access is needed, Cisco SEA triggers Cisco Duo to verify the computer’s compliance to security policies.

To learn how Cisco SEA enforces least-privilege access and allows native IP access to OT assets without having to maintain a VPN infrastructure, read the second blog in the ZTNA series.

Take control back

It’s not enough to verify users and restrict what they can access. You also need to know what they are doing once connected. This is key for cybersecurity compliance, governance, incident investigation, and the ability to stop and recover from breaches. Cisco SEA provides a complete audit trail of past and active sessions. It even gives you the ability to join a live session to watch what’s happening and terminate the session. You can also choose to record sessions to critical assets to enrich the audit trail and help troubleshooting.

Read the latest blog in the series to learn how Cisco SEA gives you full control over remote access sessions here.

Dive into modern secure remote access for OT

If you’re ready to learn about our award-winning solution, you can schedule a one-on-one demo to learn how you can benefit from ZTNA to drive secure remote access in your industrial network, or watch this on-demand demonstration of how to maintain remote connected assets with Cisco SEA at scale.

Related links:

Cisco Recognized for IoT Security and Smart Manufacturing Innovation in 2024

Secure Remote Access for OT Promotion

Cisco Secure Equipment Access

What Is Zero Trust Network Access?

Cisco Industrial IoT Security

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Ruben Lobo

Director, Product Management

Cisco Industrial IoT