JACOBS ENGINEERING has bought a cybersecurity firm called The Van Dyke Technology Group, seeking to expand its services to industrial clients.
Van Dyke is currently focussed on supporting the US intelligence community, protecting sensitive information within classified networks. Jacobs says the buyout will strengthen its existing IT offerings to the public sector and set it apart from rivals serving the private sector, especially industrial customers.
“Cybersecurity is a critical and growing need for clients in every market we serve, particularly private sector clients who own critical infrastructure in the heavy process, transportation and industrial manufacturing industries,” said Jacobs senior vice-president Darren Kraabel.
Industrial control systems have become increasingly connected to the internet through business IT networks, rather than operating in isolation, leaving them vulnerable to attack. In addition, many such systems must operate continually, so finding time for a shutdown to first vigorously test and then install upgrades and patches to prevent cyber attack is difficult.
Industrial hacking’s grand entrance into the public consciousness came in 2010 when it was revealed that the Stuxnet virus – thought to be created by US and Israeli intelligence – altered the settings on centrifuges being used in Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme, destroying equipment and setting back work by months or even years.
Worryingly, many industry experts believe that the amount of cyber-attacks being launched is much higher than the official figures suggest, as many companies hesitate to release details for fear of revealing a weakness in their security.
Prominent attacks that have been disclosed include a German steel mill that suffered massive damage after hackers took control and prevented the blast furnace from being shut down.
Jacobs has not disclosed how much it has paid for Van Dyke.
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