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Senior writer

Network Perception wants to give more visibility into OT networks

Jun 07, 20233 mins
IoT Security

Operational technology visibility and compliance vendor Network Perception has upgraded its capabilities, adding faster and more detailed analysis of OT networks.

The latest version of Network Perception’s NP-View platform, which is designed to provide deep insights into industrial and other operational technology (OT) networks, features new capabilities like improved parsing and more flexible lookup options.

The Chicago-based vendor announced NP-View 4.2 today, saying that the new features include an improved algorithm for access rules and object groups reports, faster parsing, higher performing tables, and object content lookup.

The idea, according to Network Perception CEO Robin Berthier, is to let the company’s core network mapping and diagnostic product cope with increasingly large and complex operational technology infrastructure.

“We’ve completely redesigned our analysis engine, so we were able to scale to those larger and more complex networks,” he said.

Part of NP-View’s appeal, according to Berthier, is to offer robust network visibility and management while keeping the product’s footprint on the operating environment minimal. NP-View doesn’t actively scan and discover the network, it reads configuration files — drag and dropped by the user — very quickly. (It can also use an API connector to perform periodic scans on its own.)

“Most network visibility solutions require some kind of agent or sensor,” he said, noting that overhead is a particular problem for OT networks in sectors like utility and manufacturing. “Because you have hundreds of intricate network constructrs like VLANs, different access tools and routing, building that model for thousands of endpoints and tens of thousands of dataflows is a complex task.”

The algorithmic improvements were made with the idea of aiding in quick decision-making for security teams, Berthier said. Tables detailing a few hundred rules at a time used to be enough, but the new version is far more scalable, and can parse even the largest files in minutes or seconds.

Another new capability is external path analysis, which can extrapolate information about devices on a network even if they’re not mapped in a config file. The idea there is that not every piece of industrial equipment is modeled on every network, and this feature give users a better understanding what’s really going on on their network.

“We’ve been able to compute a path in or out of those corners of the network without full knowledge of how that path will look,” said Berthier.

Network Perception’s key customer base is the electric power industry, which has strict regulatory requirements, he noted. Outages can cost a company millions of dollars per day, making compliance a critical consideration.

The new features will not change NP-View’s pricing scale, Berthier said, and all of them are now available.