Tuesday, September 10, 2019

MESA Member Q&A: Chris Hamilton, Co-Chair of MESA’s Cybersecurity Working Group

By Shaunna Balady, Member, MESA International Marketing Committee


As part of our ‘MESA Proud’ campaign, we’re shining some light on various members who help this nonprofit continue to be an important network for IT education and collaboration in the Smart Manufacturing and MES/MOM space.

First up, we have Chris Hamilton, Co-Chair of MESA’s Cybersecurity Working Group. Chris shares an overview on what it’s like to be in the working group, why he is a MESA member and his personal hobbies.

Q: As Co-Chair of MESA’s Cybersecurity Working Group, what type of issues does the group seem to be focused on?
A: The group is focused on taking industry security standards like ISA-62443, SP 800-82, CIS CSC, ISO/IEC 27001, NIST Ver. 1.1, etc and making those accessible and understandable to all MESA members as related to cybersecurity issues in manufacturing and/or industrial systems. 
Additionally, the group has created a number of blog articles which address the topic of security in an effort to bring awareness, education, and knowledge sharing.
Further, the group is active in trying to provide guidance on dealing with end of extended support issues around Windows XP and Server 2003 and upcoming for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. View upcoming meeting dates to participate.

 Q: How does this working group help participants? How does it help MESA?
A: This Working Group really provides an opportunity for people to learn about a whole host of important issues and challenges such as:
  • getting up to speed and knowledgeable about cybersecurity standards as related to manufacturing and/or industrial systems
  • understanding what standards are new and current
  • bringing awareness to emerging topics
  • allowing people to give back while simultaneously benefitting from the contributions of others; and
  • enabling participants to have a smaller group venue which allows them to have a wider voice, ask questions, and be more direct
Chris also indicated some personal perks of participating in the working group. He has been able to take what is most current and forward looking in the industry related to cybersecurity matters and incorporate this knowledge and information into assessments that he does with Clients. By doing so, he indicated that this has really given his firm a leg up. 

Q: With all the buzz around Cybersecurity, why is participation in MESA’s Cybersecurity Working Group helpful versus other venues dealing with the same issues?
A: For manufacturers and companies in critical industries, Chris believes that MESA has a unique set of members in a space that isn’t covered by the mainstream groups trying to address Cybersecurity matters. He indicated that you see a lot of Enterprise type IT blogs, but don’t see a lot of content being published related to cybersecurity in the manufacturing space. Therefore, MESA holds a very unique vantage point from others given its focus in a segment that isn’t widely addressed by well-known firms like Lloyds of London who focus on Enterprise IT Cybersecurity.

Q: How have you taken the learnings from this group to benefit you on a daily basis?
A: Chris said his involvement has helped him tremendously in providing a broader awareness and context around security matters. Although security has always been an area that he has been interested in, he never knew how critical this area is to manufacturing until getting involved with this group. 
He said that working alongside talented people like Eric Cosman, who he considers is a pillar in the industry and active for so long, has provided him with a ton of material and insight to better understand the repercussions of not addressing. Given that he has a greater awareness of the magnitude of liability which could be 6 digits due to loss of production or even tied to simple mistakes such as poor coding on a PLC or password issues, the impact of not addressing could be a huge negative.

Q: You have been a very committed and valued member of MESA both in your loyalty and time, what have been the perks of being a member?
A: Chris really likes the community of different people and diversity of backgrounds and opinions. He said that MESA has allowed him to meet people that he probably wouldn’t have ever met.

He indicated that participation in the Working Group has provided him with a different experience than being on Standard Boards or attending industry events. MESA has allowed him to look at the industry and challenges in a way that he wouldn’t have thanks to the perspectives and viewpoints of others. 
He indicated that although there is a lot of free content online or through YouTube, MESA has pre-vetted the material and provides credibility. He said with the free online content, there is no system of checks and balances.

Q: Outside of work, what do you do for fun?
A: Chris is an avid backpacker, scuba-diver and snowboarder and continues to play the piano. His wife and he recently moved from a condo to a house, so he spends a fair amount of time taking care of and updating the new property.  He is looking forward to the birth of a son in October, so anxiously awaiting the new addition to his family.

Chris Hamilton







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About the Author:
Shaunna Balady is a member of the marketing committee for MESA International. She is also vice president of business development and government contracts for Manufacturing Automation & Software Systems, leading the company’s strategic planning process.


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