"Control system cyber assets are vulnerable, threats are escalating and the industry is aware of these facts," says survey paper author Matthew Luallen, a senior SANS analyst and SCADA/process control system expert who teaches on this subject at DePaul University. "Stuxnet can be cited for finally raising risk awareness, but some of this awareness is experiential: In the survey, 33% of respondents know or suspect they've been breached."
Sponsored by ABB, Industrial Defender and Splunk, the survey revealed that respondents are putting most of their security focus on the computers operating their proprietary control systems. Unfortunately, they're doing so to the neglect of the Program Logic Controllers and other proprietary SCADA devices running atop of these computers, which have little or no native security.
"Operators need to better align their security and compliance programs with their most critical directive of preventing disruptions to service or operations," advises Deb Radcliff, executive editor of the SANS Analyst Program.
"SCADA operators should layer their security and work with their control system vendors -- who are also aware of the risk and making improvements."
Readers are invited to attend a SANS webcast to learn the full results of the survey. This webcast is scheduled for February 20, 2013, at 1 PM EST. Those who register for the webcast will also receive an advanced copy of the published results paper developed by Mr. Luallen.
"This is the first time I have seen a succinct review of the problems faced by all industries using SCADA technologies," says Barbara Filkins, SANS analyst, advisor to the survey and healthcare privacy expert. "I'm voluntary president of our mutual water company and our board is considering installing a SCADA system.
I will definitely use some of the findings in this survey to help guide our selection."
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