Startup Of The Week

Startup Of The Week: Nozomi Networks

Nozomi Networks provides a cybersecurity platform to protect industrial customers. The company has developed a comprehensive system that monitors all aspects of the networks which blend new Industry 4.0 connectivity with traditional controls for heavy machinery in factories. As manufacturers rush to install sensors and digitize their production, the cybersecurity industry is warning that they risk creating new vulnerabilities if they don’t take the proper precautions.

“Next year is going to be the first mainstream year for industrial cybersecurity,” says Edgard Capdevielle, Nozomi’s President and CEO. “We have passed the tipping point. People want more integration and a lot more intelligence in their production, which creates more risk. Everyone has to care about security. If it’s connected, it’s exposed.”

Nozomi Networks President and CEO Edgard Capdevielle

Nozomi Networks was originally founded in Switzerland five years ago just as the Internet of Things was beginning to get greater traction among manufacturers and utilities. With Industry 4.0, technologies like sensors and broadband connectivity could provide more precise controls of operations while also generating data that could be analyzed for new insights using emerging artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. This has the potential for big cost savings through greater efficiencies while also possibly enabling new production methods for breakthrough products.

But it didn’t take long for hackers to find the weak links. And so the founders of Nozomi started the company to help plug the cybersecurity holes. Early on, they signed as a customer Enel, the Italian energy conglomerate, who agreed to be a partner in designing the industrial cybersecurity platform, Capdevielle says. Since then, Nozomi has been deployed across Enel energy, mining, and manufacturing systems that are spread across 30 countries, and includes more than 250,000 devices.

Capdevielle says that the challenges of this industrial transition come in large part from connecting the new digital tools to the Industrial Control Systems, or ICS, the technology that tells machines to operate. The ICS components traditionally didn’t have to worry too much about security because they were on closed, internal networks. And so connecting them to networks that have pathways to the internet creates a situation that hackers are eager to exploit.

Nozomi’s system addresses both sides of this equation in part by a hardware appliance it has built called the SCADAguardian. This appliance can be connected to various parts of the newer IT network and the traditional operational technology network to scan constantly for unusual traffic, analyze any ICS commands being sent, as well as monitor any internet-related traffic throughout the system. All this data then gets pulled into Nozomi’s Central Management Console so security teams can have a single view of the entire system.

Nozomi just announced it had signed up GE Power as a major partner who will resell its security services to its customers for such products as gas turbines and other heavy generation equipment. That deal came a few days after Nozomi announced it had raised $30 million in venture capital, bringing its total to $54 million.

Among the company’s biggest challenges going forward, says Capdevielle, is the need to continue educating the industrial sector around security issues.

“We have to approach the customer and see where they are in this transition,” he says. “It’s the very beginning of an industrial movement. We are making a lot more products with a lot more intelligence and that creates a lot more risk.”

About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.