Belden Acquires Tripwire To Address Industrial Control System Security

Network infrastructure giant Belden said it acquired Tripwire in a $710 million deal meant to bolster its business associated with industrial control system security and data transmission protection for manufacturers and critical infrastructure operators.

Portland, Ore.-based Tripwire sells file integrity monitoring, agent-based and agentless configuration management and log management software. The company is rooted in identifying and managing configuration weaknesses, maintaining compliance and identifying issues from log and event data. It was acquired in 2011 by private equity firm Thoma Bravo and the company added analytics and reporting capabilities through the acquisition of nCircle in 2013.

Belden said Tripwire will be integrated into its transmission software portfolio used in industrial control system environments. Belden sells industrial network security software for cable, connectivity and networking products used by supervisory, control and data acquisition (SCADA) platforms. The St. Louis-based company's components are used by manufacturers and industrial control systems that power critical infrastructure such as power generation plants and chemical refineries.

[Related: Security Expert: Industry Is Failing Miserably At Fixing Underlying Dangers]

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’As a leading supplier of signal transmission solutions for mission-critical networking applications, this acquisition is an important and natural extension of Belden’s capabilities,’ said John Stroup, president and CEO of Belden, in a statement. ’We look forward to incorporating Tripwire technology into selected Belden products and providing Tripwire with access to existing Belden customers that are anxious to improve the robustness and security of their networks."

Security industry analysts tell CRN that the acquisition could have an impact on solution providers that work with clients in the manufacturing industry or provide IT consulting services for industrial connectivity and industrial IT projects. Belden's network of channel partners consist mainly of power system transmission specialists, cable infrastructure and telecommunications specialists.

The Obama administration has been advocating stronger cyberprotection for critical infrastructure facilities, many of which are owned by private-sector firms or quasi-public organizations. President Obama issued an Executive Order in 2013 making critical infrastructure protection a priority. It resulted in the creation of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, a voluntary set of security guidelines for organizations in 16 industry sectors that are designated U.S. critical infrastructure. Analysts say the attention has prompted global infrastructure giants to acquire security talent and technology, analysts say.

Tripwire has been strong on compliance and will likely bolster operational security and data protection within SCADA environments, said Rick Holland, principal analyst at Forrester Research. Holland pointed to GE's recent acquisition of Wurldtech for critical infrastructure protection as a sign that the industry is investing in threat detection and protection capabilities. Wurldtech has a presence in the energy sector where its security software is used to secure systems that run oil refineries, power transmission grids and medical device makers. Lockheed Martin acquired Industrial Defender in March in a sign that the company was expanding its commercial business to capture opportunity in the growing interest in critical infrastructure protection.

A Ponemon Institute survey of IT security and IT executives who work for operators of industrial control facilities found immature security programs with loosely defined threat protection initiatives at critical infrastructure facilities. Nearly 70 percent of survey respondents, all of whom worked in the energy, chemical or industrial manufacturing industries, said their organization experienced the loss of confidential information or a disruption to operations over the past 12 months, according to the survey, issued in July.

High-profile data breaches, news about cyberespionage threats and targeted attack campaigns have increased attention on IT security issues, said Jon Sargent, president of Norfolk, Va.-based security services firm Padlon. Organizations that own critical infrastructure facilities are more vigilant about their security processes and are insisting that their business partners improve their security postures as well, Sargent said.

"The focus on cybersecurity is still relatively new and a lot of companies still don't have a planned budget for an investment so competition for the funds that are being freed up is pretty intense," Sargeant said.

Thoma Bravo continues to maintain a broad portfolio of security industry vendors. The company has a stake in network security vendor Blue Coat Systems, LANDesk Software, SaaS-based identity and access management vendor Sailpoint Technologies, and disaster recovery vendor Vision Solutions. The company's previous security industry investments included digital certificate maker Entrust and network firewall appliance vendor SonicWall, acquired by Dell in 2012.