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Control System Security

August 19, 2014 | written by twg

Control system security is the prevention of intentional or unintentional interference with the proper operation of industrial automation and control systems. These control systems manage essential services including electricity, petroleum production, water, transportation, manufacturing, and communications. They rely on computers, networks, operating systems, applications, and programmable controllers, each of which could contain security vulnerabilities.

The 2010 discovery of the Stuxnet worm demonstrated the vulnerability of these systems to cyber incidents. The United States and other governments have passed cyber-security regulations requiring enhanced protection for control systems operating critical infrastructure.

Control system security is known by several other names such as SCADA security, PCN security, industrial network security, and control system cyber security.

SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) is a type of industrial control system (ICS). Industrial control systems are computer-based systems that monitor and control industrial processes that exist in the physical world. SCADA systems historically distinguish themselves from other ICS systems by being large-scale processes that can include multiple sites, and large distances.

SCADA is a system operating with coded signals over communication channels so as to provide control of remote equipment (using typically one communication channel per remote station). The supervisory system may be combined with a data acquisition system by adding the use of coded signals over communication channels to acquire information about the status of the remote equipment for display or for recording functions.

Many vendors of SCADA and control products have begun to address the risks posed by unauthorized access by developing lines of specialized industrial firewall and VPN solutions for TCP/IP-based SCADA networks as well as external SCADA monitoring and recording equipment. The International Society of Automation (ISA) started formalizing SCADA security requirements in 2007 with a working group called WG4. WG4 “deals specifically with unique technical requirements, measurements, and other features required to evaluate and assure security resilience and performance of industrial automation and control systems devices”.