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Oscar Williams

News editor

Forcepoint launches new unit dedicated to protecting critical infrastructure from hackers

US security vendor Forcepoint has launched a new business unit dedicated to protecting critical infrastructure providers from insider threats.

The unit has been tasked with supplying defence-grade threat detection software to businesses operating in the energy, oil and gas, and critical manufacturing industries.

David Hatchell, a former Intel and McAfee executive, joins the division as vice-president. He will report to Sean Berg, Forcepoint’s senior vice-president for global governments and critical infrastructure.

“[The energy, oil and gas and manufacturing] industries provide essential services that underpin society, and they need to control access to the plant or electric grid to protect their users and critical data,” said Berg in a statement.

“The most effective, holistic approach requires behavioural insight to automatically provide security countermeasures without impacting availability to prevent intrusion into critical systems,” he added.

In April, intelligence agencies in the US and UK confirmed that Russian state actors had been targeting engineering and industrial control systems since March 2017.

An advisory notice published by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre at the time claimed hackers had “harvested NTLM 1 credentials via Server Message Block (SMB) using strategic web compromises and spear-phishing”.

Speaking at a tech conference in Manchester shortly after the announcement, the former director of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, claimed that Russia had seen the potential in investing in offensive cyber capabilities more than a decade ago – long before most other governments.

It’s not surprising that over the years, we and other countries have found Russian intelligence services on our networks. What is worrying is the intent has clearly changed.”

Referring to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March, Hannigan concluded: “A country that is prepared to use chemical weapons on the streets of a UK town may want to do reckless things in cyber space.”