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12/27/2010
11:48 AM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
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SCADA Security Heats Up

The use of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) devices is growing. That growth is expected to continue to soar. According to research firm Frost & Sullivan SCADA revenues will grow from $4.6 billion last year to nearly $7 billion in 2016. Question is: What about security?

The use of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) devices is growing. That growth is expected to continue to soar. According to research firm Frost & Sullivan SCADA revenues will grow from $4.6 billion last year to nearly $7 billion in 2016. Question is: What about security?A few years ago, when anyone would bring up the topic of SCADA system security, they were looked at like conspiracy theorists or UFO investigators.

That all changed when Stuxnet surfaced, which was designed, many analysts who studied the worm now contend, to disrupt the uranium enrichment capabilities of Iran through the modification of programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

That's not precisely a SCADA system, but it does show that industrial control systems can - and more importantly - will be targeted. And the processes SCADA systems help to manage include those used in manufacturing, power generation and distribution, refining, water systems, large communication systems - you get the idea: critical infrastructure stuff.

What is concerning is that for years, while people were aware of the security concerns, no one did much of anything about it.

Fortunately, security is getting some level of attention now. From Frost & Sullivan's research report, Strategic Analysis of the World SCADA Market, found that oil exploration, gas distribution, and other demands are driving SCADA growth. And security is part of the planned spend:

One of the key challenges that manufacturers face in the world SCADA market is ensuring enhanced cyber security. "A great majority of SCADA vendors have started to address the risks of cyber threats by developing lines of specialised industrial firewall and VPN solutions for TCP/IP-based SCADA networks," states Frost & Sullivan Research

Analyst Katarzyna Owczarczyk. "Additionally, more and more applications are being implemented to the control systems in order to prevent unauthorized application changes without impacting the performances of common antivirus scans."

That's a start. Now let's also ensure the applications and systems SCADA devices connect are built securely and with resiliency in mind.

For my security and technology observations throughout the day, find me on Twitter.

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