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Threat Intelligence

11/18/2019
09:00 AM
Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
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13 Security Pros Share Their Most Valuable Experiences

From serving as an artillery Marine to working a help desk, infosec practitioners pinpoint experiences that had the greatest influence on their careers.
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A Near-Miss Safety Hazard

A valuable experience in PAS Global founder and CEO Eddie Habibi's security career was during his first gig as an independent OT consultant. He was in the control room of a refinery on the Houston Ship Channel, working on the design, configuration, and commissioning of a Honeywell TDC3000 control system at a Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) unit. The unit had a capacity of some 100,000 barrels per day, or more than 130,000 gallons of oil moving through a large pipe every hour.

One day, a "reversal at the fluid unit" prompted a near disaster at the control room, Habibi says. While the operators brought it back to a safe state, an incident investigation showed a simple typo had been the cause. An operator had entered 97% instead of 9.7%, causing the slide valve to move far more than intended.

"It was clear this was an unintentional and plausible human error, the kind of error that can happen to anyone, even when performing critical tasks," he says. "But the potential impact of it was not lost on me." The incident reinforced his enthusiasm for operational safety, and Habibi has since focused on his career on the operator's role in hazardous processes.

"The ultimate goal of an OT cyberattacker on a processing plant is to move molecules to places they are not designed to go, furthermore causing accidents that destroy assets, create unsafe conditions, and harm the environment," Habibi says.

(Image: PAS Global)

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