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Cybersecurity Challenges in Critical Facilities

What are critical facilities?

A critical facility is any structure or building that because of its unique function has the potential to cause disruption to vital socioeconomic activities if it were to be destroyed, damaged, or functionality impaired. Critical facilities include health and safety facilities, government facilities, data centers, financial institutions, and military installations. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “typical critical facilities include hospitals, fire stations, police stations, storage of critical records, and similar facilities.” 

What are the cybersecurity threats to critical facilities?

Cyberattacks have become one of the fastest growing threats to information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) infrastructure at critical facilities. Cybersecurity threats include ransomware attacks that disrupt services and demand payment, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that overwhelm systems, and advanced persistent threats (APTs) that target utilities with the intent of stealing sensitive information, disrupting services, or causing physical damage to infrastructure.

Software and hardware vulnerabilities, if not regularly updated and patched, can also leave critical facilities vulnerable to cyberattacks. As the threat landscape evolves and cybercriminals become more sophisticated, critical facilities must remain vigilant in protecting their systems and data from cyber-attacks, which is why OT cybersecurity should be a top priority.

How do data diodes support cybersecurity at critical facilities?

Critical facilities need access to operational data without exposing themselves to cyberattacks. Some 85% of industrial and mechanical equipment currently goes without remote monitoring, requiring expensive manual inspection and providing no real-time information about performance or impending failure. Data diode technology can be applied to any critical facility, particularly those with geographically dispersed equipment that is unmonitored today, providing real-time remote monitoring and advanced analytics.


Fend’s data diodes provide physical cyber security for industrial control systems to safeguard critical infrastructure, protect public safety, and secure sensitive information from cyber threats while allowing access to the critical data that operators need. Managers of critical facilities benefit from the situational awareness provided by remote monitoring with Fend data diodes. This information leads to improved equipment performance and reduces unplanned downtime. Because our data diodes are low cost, easy to install, and don’t require ongoing maintenance/patches, they’re highly scalable, allowing them to be deployed across enterprises with hundreds or thousands of critical facilities.


Since data diode technology blocks any and all inbound traffic, they offer the same level of security as a physical air gap for remote visibility without the vulnerabilities.

Case Study - Case Study - Secure Monitoring of Military Facilities

The DoD Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) sought innovative and cost-effective cyber defense solutions to improve the use, access and quality of utility- and facility-related data for greater efficiency and resilience, improved demand management and decision making, and optimal operation and maintenance of military facilities and installations.


Fend was selected to demonstrate that Fend’s low-cost, easy-to-install data diode could provide the security of an air gap between high-security and low-security networks while increasing the accessibility and quantity of data to managers across DoD in order to enhance energy and water management and operational efficiency. To ensure that Fend’s diodes could achieve this goal, the project focused on the following specific performance objectives:

  • Complete isolation of protected equipment

  • Uninterrupted equipment operation

  • Interoperability with various equipment

  • Ease of installation

  • Data transmission to desired network location

  • Cost performance


The evaluation, conducted from 2019-2022 by Fend Incorporated and the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Lab (ERDC-CERL), showed that one-way data diodes enable greater situational awareness, efficiency and resilience by providing access to real-time information that was previously locked behind an air gap while blocking cyberattacks. Fend won the ESTCP 2021 Project of the Year award for this work. 


Benefits of Using Data Diodes for Critical Facilities

Fend’s easy-to-deploy hardware brings data diode protection to critical facilities at a fraction of the price of traditional solutions. Fend enables real-time visibility across the rest of the value chain, allowing real-time analytics and predictive maintenance while protecting operational networks and assets.

​Fend’s unidirectional gateway hardware physically protects you from cyberattack. Fend diodes feature:

  • No hidden fees or licenses. All supported protocols are included with the purchase.

  • No need for custom external servers or software.

  • Built from the ground up as a cost-effective solution for monitoring industrial equipment.

  • Made in the USA.

​Fend data diodes come equipped with onboard protocol support for common industrial OT and IT protocols like Modbus RTU/TCP, FTP, FTPS, UDP and TCP. Setting up a diode is as easy as logging in to the Fend Configuration Tool, selecting your protocols, entering some basic information.

Use Case: Data Centers 

Monitor real-time energy usage and the operational readiness of assets from HVAC, to chillers, air handlers, EPS, lighting systems and more using a physically enforced one-way data flow.

Use Case: Higher Ed

Learn how a university obtained historical performance data from a formerly air gapped central plant system with Fend data diodes. 

Physically Block Cyberattacks on Critical Facilities with Fend’s Data Diodes

In addition to the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Navy’s Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center rely on Fend's data diode technology to strengthen cybersecurity measures. Enhance your systems, comply with regulations, and physically protect your industrial control systems with Fend data diodes. Realize the benefits of complete network segmentation, freedom from security patches, and hassle-free operation. Fend's offerings provide access to remote data with the security of a physical air gap.

Data Diodes for Protecting Critical Facilities

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