Last week I had a call with Brad Davis, CEO of Uniloc, who explained the company's new NetAnchor technology to me. Basically, NetAnchor is a way to secure networks of widely varied devices against attack by using physical device recognition. This is especially useful for critical infrastructure -- for example, the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems that are used to control our water, power, oil and gas, chemical, and transportation systems.
Basically, Uniloc's patented physical device recognition technology samples about 10,000 different characteristics of a device to make up a unique "fingerprint" for the device. In addition to the obvious differentiators such as board and chip serial numbers and network MAC addresses, Uniloc's client software looks at the unique pattern of defects in the disk media, the exact speed of chip sets, and other physical imperfections, to create a robust identifier.
What about legacy devices, such as PLCs (programmable logic controllers) or sensors, such as oil pipeline flowmeters? They can't be fingerprinted directly, but a small NetAnchor appliance can be inserted between the appliance and the network to provide the unique fingerprint.
Once every device on a network has been identified and authenticated to a NetAnchor server, it becomes very difficult (Uniloc would say impossible) for an intruder to breach the network without gaining physical access to an authenticated device. This greatly reduces the attack surface of the network.
According to Davis, Econolite has partnered with Uniloc to provide cybersecurity to the transportation industry, and SAIC has partnered with the company to provide cybersecurity to the power and oil-and-gas industries. Uniloc is seeking to license its technology to partners in other industries.
Last month, Uniloc was in the news for winning its 6-year-long patent dispute with Microsoft.