Watch for program vulnerabilities

No security policy or system is ever foolproof. Here are a few vulnerabilities to watch out for:

11/01/2007


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Be prepared, stay informed

No security policy or system is ever foolproof. Here are a few vulnerabilities to watch out for:

  • Are policies and procedures adequate and applicable? IT security methods cannot be applied without adaptions for control level and overall automation security objectives.

  • Have you deployed “defense in depth?” Securing a control system requires a systematic and comprehensive approach. Simply installing a firewall or a virus scanner does not achieve protection. Seek “defense in depth.”

  • Is your remote access secure? Data availability must be ensured as well as controlled. When outside/Web access is established, deploy strong control policies, tools, and processes that prevent unauthorized access.

  • Is your wireless open to intruders? Wireless communication is becoming more important. Industrial use of radio technology requires state-of-the-art authentication and encryption combined with high-quality encryption keys.

  • Is resource-sharing opening your system to attack? HMI and control networks should not share communication resources or bandwidth with non-essential services. System design should segregate networks appropriately.

  • Have all unnecessary and inappropriate applications been removed? Only necessary applications directly involved in process control should reside on the system. Email, games, media players, etc., should be removed and not reintroduced.

  • Is your firewall configured correctly? One common security mistake is believing that you are protected because you have a firewall. Many owner / operator’s systems were breached because their firewalls were not configured correctly. Enlist personnel with expertise in both process control and IT when establishing firewalls.



Be prepared, stay informed

Remember, no security policy or system is ever complete. Staying current on security matters is imperative to every company. An endless supply of tools provides basic education to detailed tutorials.

“We’ve assembled a baker’s dozen of resources that provide a solid starting point for learning,” says Todd Stauffer, manager of process automation system marketing. “Check out the websites of private and governmental agencies, software suppliers, system vendors, and consulting services. For example, Siemens Energy & Automation at

There are many U.S. government agencies and private organizations that offer resources for learning about industrial cyber security and infrastructure protection. See the online version of this section at



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