7 questions for industrial wireless security

What is the No. 1 concern when it comes to wireless solutions in the industrial world? While the answer might be debatable, it always comes down to these two questions – is it reliable enough and can I secure it?

12/01/2014


At the Belden industrial Ethernet infrastructure design seminar, Jeff Caldwell, chief architect for security for Belden, posed this question to the audience—is wireless more secure or less secure than a wired network?

When you start thinking about it and boiling it down to the basics, consider these points:

  • Passwords generally aren't needed to plug a wired PC into a router and access a network, but they are required to connect to a wireless network. You can lay down a hub, use Wireshark, or see all of your data streams.
  • This is not the case with wireless, even if you've only set up the most basic and commonplace security, which 95% of the population does.

You can have the best security strategy in the world—wired or wireless—but things change. Researchers continually identify new threats. Automation equipment vulnerabilities are frequently revealed and unintentional cyber security incidents happen regularly. Therefore, an important part of your security strategy must be setting up systems to monitor your network that automatically alerts you to unusual activity. In addition, establishing a process for regularly updating the system, software, and plan is critical.

Shared medium or not, wireless can be secure. Ask these seven questions when planning a WLAN network:

  • Have I protected the network devices?
  • Have I set up protection for my network from misconfigured devices and from bad behavior?
  • Are the authenticated, legitimate wireless users or devices safeguarded from other users or equipment?
  • If using a WLAN controller, have I protected the network between the access point and controller?
  • Have I set myself up to recognize Denial of Service (DoS) potentials, air interference, or when other "bad stuff" might be happening?
  • Do I have legacy devices? Have I handled them properly so I don't open up accidental vulnerabilities?
  • Are there physical considerations around the wireless devices themselves or the wireless coverage areas I need to address?

If you're not sure how to address some of these questions, today's industrial wireless equipment has numerous security features built-in. It's often just a question of making sure you use them.

Heather MacKenzie is with Tofino Security, a Belden company. This content originally appeared on the ISSSource website. Edited by Joy Chang, Digital Project Manager, CFE Media, jchang@cfemedia.com 



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Integrated mobility; Artificial intelligence; Predictive motion control; Sensors and control system inputs; Asset Management; Cybersecurity
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me