ABB chief: Remain security aware

Security is a hot and important topic for the manufacturing industry and if anyone thinks the Stuxnet attack just focused on one area, they need to think again, ABB’s chief executive said Tuesday.


Security is a hot and important topic for the manufacturing industry and if anyone thinks the Stuxnet attack just focused on one area, they need to think again, ABB’s chief executive said Tuesday.

“Stuxnet was unique and ingenious,” said Joseph Hogan, ABB’s chief executive during this morning’s keynote address at ABB Automaton & Power World 2011 in Orlando, FL. “It was not just a Siemens thing. I spent enough time in biology to know a virus can mutate.”

Yes, Stuxnet focused on the Iran nuclear program, but it also showed the vulnerability of control systems in general.

With that in mind ABB said it invested in and is partnering with industry security firm, Industrial Defender, to help secure their systems even more than they already are. “Security issues are here to stay,” Hogan said. “By partnering with Industrial Defender it will be an extra insurance policy.”

At a briefing after the keynote, Hogan added more about security. “We are stepping on a huge minefield with our technology. If someone wants to take down your process today, you have to have something that tells you something is going down.”

“I am amazed that most security issues come from inside the company. (Security) is an insurance policy you have to consider,” he said.

While ABB did talk about the importance of security, company officials also talked about some of the other key drivers in the industry today. One of the top drivers remains energy efficiency. The company is focusing on new approaches to old technologies to achieve greater efficiencies that will help manufacturers end up saving money.

“In an energy intensive industry, even a slight change will go straight to the bottom line,” Hogan said.

One of the other main areas that needs some change to help companies grow is erasing the federal deficit.

“There is one uncertainty and that is the inconceivable massive fiscal deficit we see in the United States,” said Enrique Santacana, ABB chief executive in North America. “We see growth, but we must proceed with caution.”

“Regardless of what governments do, we are going have an economy to work with,” Hogan said.

While there will be an economy one way or another, it does seems to be chugging along in a positive manner.

“Last year the recession was over, but recovery was hard to see and there was a lack of optimism,” Santacana said. “Now we are looking at a recovery that is going in the right direction and we are enthusiastic about the future.”

Hogan agreed. “We are seeing a much rosier economy,” he said. “The U.S. and Germany have a lot to address, however. I remain optimistic governments will get serious enough to take on issues.”

While Santacana talked about the three pillars of fundamentals the company is focusing on – productivity, reliability and efficiency, Hogan also discussed key drivers moving forward. They include: Productivity, energy efficiency, global economy heading in the right direction, renewable energy needs expanding, grid technology being more essential and industrial and grid customers having new service requirements.

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