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As the frequency and sophistication of attacks increase, not only against traditional IT networks but also against Operational Technology (OT) networks, it is making way for more cybersecurity challenges. The pressure from cyber threats is reaching new highs and organizations are realizing that achieving perfect security is unrealistic. To align with these challenges, businesses are adapting their security strategy to improve cyber resiliency. However, the journey to make cyber resiliency a reality as well as making it operational is not an easy endeavor. This is where Network Perception is making an impact by delivering solutions that verify industrial control systems protection by ensuring network access security as the first line of defense. “Our lightweight independent verification and visualization platform provides complete network transparency and continuous mapping to better support cybersecurity compliance and operationalize cyber resiliency. We visualize the security posture to ensure that there’s no blind spot and make sure that all the stakeholders are involved in this journey towards resiliency,” Robin Berthier, Co-Founder, and CEO, Network Perception. 

What makes Network Perception a pioneer in the industry is its lightweight, robust, and safe network security solution. The company offers a completely frictionless deployment and instant value for its customers who are under stringent compliance and cybersecurity pressure. Moreover, its solutions are highly usable for both technical and non-technical users, thanks to the unique design. Moreover, the solution’s progressive data ingestion system provides values even if a subset of network devices is imported. “Our solutions are crafted to be as intuitive as possible, the user interface is elegant and simple so everyone can understand network risk exposure immediately, regardless of their technical background,” explains Berthier.

Instantly Visualize the Network Map

Network Perception’s instant network visualization platform is called NP-View. The platform solves compliance and security audit challenges by performing an automated and comprehensive analysis of a client’s network device configuration files. Packaged as a desktop application or server-based application, it uses the configuration files from firewalls, routers, and switches to instantly visualize the network topology. The network visualization enables anyone to understand compliance and security issues instantly. The results of the automated analysis can be seamlessly exported into actionable reports. In short, NP-View builds a model of a network that accurately represents how each network device allows and denies communication. This model computes the complete set of possible paths among network assets. “There’s no other platform where you can visualize the network in a lightweight, fast way, like Network Perception’s. ” extols Berthier. 

In addition, the solution will automatically identify overly permissive rules or misconfigurations that could put your infrastructure at risk. It can also compute the connectivity in the network based on the configurations without touching the network. “First, we input the configuration file of the network devices and display a visual map of your network. Second, we do a risk assessment. And finally, we compute a  path analysis to automatically verify your correct network segmentation,” explains Berthier.

The Deep Modeling Technology

The first step in defending  a network is to know that network extremely well. The knowledge of a network configuration is the best pro-active line of defense to protect critical assets against attacks. At Network Perception, the team helps its clients elevate that understanding and align everyone with the same comprehension of how the network is configured. This way, Network Perception’s customers can monitor their network security control with ease.

Network Perception’s innovative cyber resiliency solution comes with a deep network modeling technology to automatically verify network segmentation and provide instant firewall risk assessment. The added comprehensive REST API easily integrates within the larger cybersecurity ecosystem. The solutions’ read-only deployment feature independently verifies network configurations without increasing the attack surface. 

As a cybersecurity solution provider, Network Perception focuses on developing technology to support cyber resiliency, enhancing the customers’ ability to verify faster and to visualize how their network architecture is efficiently protecting their critical assets or not. In most OT environments, a single person is usually able to intimately understand how the network is actually configured. The larger team relies on network diagrams that are outdated or incorrect. Moreover, most networks would accidentally connect non-critical to critical zones. NP-View is designed to automatically and effortlessly verify those issues while clarifying network architecture for all stakeholders.

The Invention of Automated Security

The story of the inception of Network Perception dates back to when CEO and Co-Founder Robin Berthier was working as a research scientist with funding from the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana. The government was extremely concerned with the risk of cyber attacks against the electrical grid and asked the researchers including Berthier to develop the next generation of network modeling solutions. This led to the development of an initial prototype to better understand networks, and better verify how access policies protect critical assets. Berthier adds, “We were very fortunate from day one of the research project to be able to work closely with industry partners. We partnered with electric utilities in the Midwest, including Ameren  and ComEd, to understand their challenges and their pain points. We received continuous feedback as we developed the initial prototype.” This ultimately led to the founding of Network Perception and its evolution as a leading cybersecurity company. 

The team realized the complexity and monotony  of having to manually go through thousands of policy rules to try to understand exactly how firewalls in the network are blocking unwanted access to critical assets and critical industrial equipment. Network Perception’ solution automates the entire firewall audit process and enables compliance and security  teams to shift from that tedious manual, lengthy review process into a much faster, automated and comprehensive workflow, while removing the risk of human errors.

Embracing the Zero-Trust Culture

Over time, Network Perception has evolved as one of the most innovative network security solution providers in the industry with over 100 customers, including half of the largest 30 utilities in the U.S. The company has also established a strong relationship with NERC and the electric utility industry. As part of its growth plan, Network Perception is launching a new set of licensing tiers for its NP-View product. The three tiers include NP-View Essential—the fastest solution to determine if network devices are in or out of compliance. NP-View Essential is the entry-level version to support the needs of organizations that don’t yet have an independent verification process established. The second tier is NP-View Professional, a solution that continuously verifies if a network architecture is correctly configured to protect mission-critical assets. The Professional version is best suited for organizations with a consistent and documented independent verification process in place. It builds on the Essential version by enabling users to track changes and to augment their network verification and visibility capabilities with vulnerability information. 

Finally, the third tier is NP-View Enterprise, the most advanced and customizable platform to continuously check if critical assets are protected 24/7 by best-in-class defense-in-depth. The Enterprise version of NP-View is designed for organizations that have measurable security policies and procedures. It builds on the Professional version by adding dashboards, custom fields, advanced workflow automation, and full API integration. “As part of the growing zero-trust culture , it is vital to invest in a  read-only and continuous verification solution that can give you a clear picture of your risk exposure without adding any new risk to your infrastructure. ” concludes Berthier.