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Why We Launched Industrial Cybersecurity Startup SynSaber

SynSaber Story

Since this is our first blog, we wanted to share a bit of our origin story and why we made the decision to launch our industrial cybersecurity startup, SynSaber. Our energy, manufacturing, and utilities sectors continue to face a visibility and security crisis, especially within operations technology (OT) environments. Industrial networks and systems are designed to be robust, which is primarily derived through simplicity.

Unfortunately, simplicity often comes at the cost of security. Many of these solutions and networks lack foundational security tenets such as authentication or access controls, let alone more advanced security features. 

This crisis is being exacerbated by the evolution of technology and its connected state. Previously disconnected efforts are being converged with business processes and connected to enterprise systems – further exposing these insecure-by-design systems. The industry has progressed in the fields of automation, business efficiency, and enterprise integration at the cost of an increased attack surface of systems that were never intended to be interconnected.

Industrial organizations have very little visibility into the security of their environments (less than 20% of environments are monitored), and what they do have provides a false sense of security. Even for organizations that have monitoring, they aren’t covering industrial-specific use cases. Whether the system is producing gasoline or gadgets, these OT systems are purpose-built for their own processes, focused on safety and reliability. As a result, off the shelf IT cybersecurity solutions just don’t work. Many current industrial cybersecurity solutions are attempting to shoehorn IT methodologies into industrial environments and frequently ignore the unique roles, environment, and customer needs within this space. The solutions are too complex, not operator focused, and don’t scale. 

We’ve seen these problems firsthand, and are passionate about providing a solution that faces these challenges head-on. We understand that visibility is critical to reliable operations, compliance, and risk reduction. SynSaber was founded for the purpose of empowering industrial operators and defenders to be the hero. Providing much-needed information and functions to each distinct role and allowing them to apply their collective strengths to watch over, protect, and secure their environments. 

Operators, engineers, and defenders have very different roles. However, all of them share the responsibility of ensuring that their environments are operational, fully functional, and safe.The data, features, and tasks for each of these roles differ greatly making their needs distinct and organically narrowing their individual view and sphere of influence. Each holds a piece of the puzzle and only together can the complete picture be gleaned.

At SynSaber we know that security can be a reality. Simple, effective, meaningful security solutions need to empower the operator, not overwhelm them.

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What’s in a Name?

“SynSaber” is derived from the swift and precise action of trained swordplay. Our inspiration comes from Gérard Thibault d’Anvers, a Belgian fencing expert, who created a comprehensive and analytical approach to sword fighting. A key component of his manual Academie de l’Espée is a circular diagram – called the “Mysterious Circle” – which represents the mathematical and physical positioning of person and weapon.

The Mysterious Circle depicts the precise geometric relationship between opposing swordsmen, their reach, range, and natural proportions. Thibault’s approach to offense and defense centers on the awareness of these proportions, and through that awareness swordsmen can effectively defend and strike back. Similarly, when industrial operators have complete awareness of their assets and networks, they can proactively and effectively defend them. 

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that “SynSaber” also comes from our combined gamer tags. Team SynSaber regularly geeks out on security and ICS while battling Riven & Diablo, or last team standing in a battle royale. Whether it’s tower defense, strategy, hack and slash, tabletop, or fortifying infrastructure, the SynSaber team comes prepared. Reach out if you’re interested in learning more about SynSaber technology, or if you want to chat about ICS, asset monitoring, or MMORPGs.