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Johnson Controls Boosts Smart Building Cyber Defenses Through Tempered Networks Acquisition

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Johnson Controls, a global technology company specializing in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, has strengthened its cybersecurity defenses through its acquisition of Tempered Networks.

This is technology M&A deal number 575 that MSSP Alert and sister site ChannelE2E have covered so far in 2022. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Airwall Technology Advances Zero Trust Cybersecurity

Tempered Networks is a zero trust cybersecurity provider of “Airwall” technology designed to advance self-defense systems for buildings. Airwall enables secure network access across diverse groups of endpoint devices, edge gateways, cloud platforms and service technicians, according to a Johnson Controls news release.

Tempered Networks uses software-defined perimeters to create secure communications, which enables micro-segmentation of building networks and granular access control and authentication. Johnson Controls will roll out the Tempered Networks platform across its OpenBlue AI-enabled platform, as well as in an increasing number of products and services.

The acquisition will advance Johnson Controls’ “vision of enabling fully autonomous buildings that are inherently resilient to cyberattack.” And it ensures data exchanges and service actions among buildings can only take place between people and devices that are continuously authenticated.

Acquisition Accelerates Smart Building Cyber Defenses

Johnson Controls, based in Cork, Ireland, has a 135-year history that today employs a global team of 100,000 people in more than 150 countries — and claims the world's largest portfolio of building technology, software and as-service solutions.

Tempered Networks is a computer and network security company based in Seattle, Washington. Founded in 2012, Tempered Networks employs approximately 75 people as of June 2022.

In a prepared statement about the deal, Vijay Sankaran, Johnson Controls’ vice president and chief technology officer, described the impact of Tempered Networks’ Airwall approach:

"When it comes to buildings, we must create easily implementable cybersecurity defenses, as we're often dealing with critical infrastructure, including assets, such as data centers and hospitals. Tempered Networks’ Airwall approach is purpose-built for our sector, as it's designed around principles of zero trust in securing device communications as data moves between devices and the cloud."

Bryan Skene, Tempered Networks’ chief technology officer, lauded the acquisition:

"Digital transformation is the primary way we'll make the world's buildings more autonomous and resilient. Being acquired by Johnson Controls allows us to fully integrate our Airwall technology into their software stack, providing an advanced security platform for a range of edge-to-cloud applications. Our ambition, now that we're part of Johnson Controls, is that building systems everywhere can be managed from anywhere and remain secure from cyber threats."

Airwall Technology Explained

Tempered Networks’ Airwall technology uses Host Identity Protocol and a cloud-based policy orchestration platform to create new overlay networks built on encrypted and authenticated communication, according to Johnson Controls.

The policy manager (a.k.a. the conductor) enforces configured digital policies that control connections within the cloaked overlay system. Once a communicating device authenticates itself correctly, an encrypted tunnel is created through which data flows. One advantage of this cybersecurity technique is the creation of an always-on and software-defined security perimeter protecting device-to-device, device-to-cloud and device-to-user interactions.

Jim Masters

Jim Masters is Managing Editor of MSSP Alert, and holds a B.A. degree in Journalism from Northern Illinois University. His career has spanned governmental and investigative reporting for daily newspapers in the Northwest Indiana Region and 16 years in a global internal communications role for a Fortune 500 professional services company. Additionally, he is co-owner of the Lake County Corn Dogs minor league baseball franchise, located in Crown Point, Indiana. In his spare time, he enjoys writing and recording his own music, oil painting, biking, volleyball, golf and cheering on the Corn Dogs.