Dennis Brandl: Control vendors bundle anti-virus, spyware-protection with products

Tighter integration of security software and control system software can reduce the need for manufacturing IT personnel to be security experts.

12/10/2009


There is increasing attention by control system vendors to enhance cyber security and operate better in corporate IT environments. This attention is good because cyber threats are not decreasing and, at the same time, corporate IT environments are becoming more protected. While governments have focused on cyber security for "critical infrastructure" industries, such as water, power, telecommunications, and transportation, cyber security also is important for all manufacturing industries.

Some control vendors are using an increasingly popular method of bundling anti-virus and spyware protection with their products. Vendors test the latest version of antivirus software and operating system patches against their software, reducing your need to test and validate security patches and updates. In most cases the operating system (OS) patches are the latest Microsoft patches released on "Patch Tuesday" and are available from the vendor within one or two weeks of the Microsoft release. This gives the vendor time to test all standard configurations. The vendors will then redistribute the patches, executables, and signature (.dat) files that have been successfully tested along with notices of patches or updates that should not be applied. Vendor redistributed patches may also include JAVA updates, browser updates, and Adobe updates if this software is used in their products.

Another cyber security feature that more vendors are offering is preconfigured OS configurations. These are configurations which have unneeded services removed, ports locked, hardware disabled (such as DVD drives and USB ports configured for thumb drives), unneeded applications removed, and security settings preconfigured. These systems reduce the errors associated with the installation of software and configuration of the hundreds of options and services installed with a default OS installation.

While this increased attention by control vendors is a good thing-because it reduces the need for manufacturing IT personnel to be security experts-it does present another set of interfaces for manufacturing IT and corporate IT.

The first issue that often has to be addressed is the antivirus software vendor. Control vendors will pick one antivirus vendor to test and ship with their systems. However, their selected antivirus vendor will probably not be the same as the corporate antivirus vendor. It is important to work with corporate IT to place all of your control vendor's antivirus vendors on the approved use list. This may be easy in small companies but difficult in large companies because of the number of control vendors used.

Scheduling downloads and patches must also be coordinated with corporate IT. Many large companies will control downloads through a Microsoft Systems Management Server or equivalent. The control vendor patches and upgrades must be set up in a separate domain, subdomain, or OU (organizational unit) so that manufacturing IT can initiate downloads at times that will not impact operations, quality, and safety.

Another new aspect of control software is the increasing use of Microsoft Active Directory and Microsoft domains to control accounts, passwords, and privileges. Managing this information requires careful coordination with corporate IT.

There are multiple options for integrating control domains and corporate domains, but the situation will be complicated if you have multiple control vendors. Check with your control vendors to see if they require a separate domain, if they can operate as a subdomain, or if they can operate in an OU within the corporate domain. Each option provides a different level of local control and different level of corporate oversight.

Increased attention by control system vendors to cyber security and operation within corporate IT environments will help your company. Cyber threats continue to proliferate and operating within a protected corporate IT environment is critical to safe and secure manufacturing operations.

Dennis Brandl is president of BR&L Consulting in Cary, NC, www.brlconsulting.com. His firm focuses on manufacturing IT. Contact Dennis at dbrandl@brlconsulting.com.





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.
Women in engineering; Engineering Leaders Under 40; PID benefits and drawbacks; Ladder logic; Cloud computing
Robotic integration and cloud connections; SCADA and cybersecurity; Motor efficiency standards; Open- and closed-loop control; Augmented reality
Controller programming; Safety networks; Enclosure design; Power quality; Safety integrity levels; Increasing process efficiency
This article collection contains several articles on how advancements in vision system designs, computing power, algorithms, optics, and communications are making machine vision more cost effective than ever before.
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 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!

Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
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
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.
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.
Women in engineering; Engineering Leaders Under 40; PID benefits and drawbacks; Ladder logic; Cloud computing
Robotic integration and cloud connections; SCADA and cybersecurity; Motor efficiency standards; Open- and closed-loop control; Augmented reality
Controller programming; Safety networks; Enclosure design; Power quality; Safety integrity levels; Increasing process efficiency
This article collection contains several articles on how advancements in vision system designs, computing power, algorithms, optics, and communications are making machine vision more cost effective than ever before.
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 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!

Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
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
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.
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.
Women in engineering; Engineering Leaders Under 40; PID benefits and drawbacks; Ladder logic; Cloud computing
Robotic integration and cloud connections; SCADA and cybersecurity; Motor efficiency standards; Open- and closed-loop control; Augmented reality
Controller programming; Safety networks; Enclosure design; Power quality; Safety integrity levels; Increasing process efficiency
This article collection contains several articles on how advancements in vision system designs, computing power, algorithms, optics, and communications are making machine vision more cost effective than ever before.
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 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!

Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
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
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