What Is SCADA Security?
SCADA security systems are put in place to protect Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) networks. These vital Industrial Control Systems (ICS) help to regulate a number of critical infrastructure services, including electric power, water, transportation, and natural gas. Protecting these systems from cyber attacks is an essential job.
Until recently, SCADA networks could only be monitored with traditional security methods—that is, employees needed to physically visit the station in which the SCADA system was located.
However, as computer technology developed, SCADA security systems improved as well. Wide Area Networks (WAN) allow various security components to easily communicate with each other, providing ongoing network security and monitoring.
Due to the fact that ICSs regulate a significant amount of critical infrastructure, they are frequent targets for cyber attacks. Although improvements in technology have improved SCADA security, an increase in the use of IP-based systems comes with its own security threats.
As organizations begin to provide more partners with access to the inner workings of their ICSs, it becomes easier for hackers to gain access to their systems. In fact, 40% of sites utilizing ICS have connections to public Internet, and over half of them don’t run up-to-date anti-virus software.
SCADA Network Security Threats
Cyber warfare continues to threaten network security every day. There are four main security threats that SCADA systems face:
- Hackers: These people may work as individuals or in groups. They gain access to SCADA networks with malicious intent, often for their own gain. They may also be employed by governments committing acts of cyber warfare.
- Employees: Workers often unintentionally cause problems within SCADA systems. Most frequently, these problems are accidental and can be remedied with additional training.
- Malware: Malware, including spyware and viruses, may not specifically target SCADA systems, but it can still pose a significant security threat.
- Terrorists: Unlike hackers, terrorists are generally not motivated by their own personal gain. Instead, terrorists specifically set out to cause a significant amount of damage to critical infrastructure.
Network Security Procedures
Completing thorough risk assessments and establishing security measures is vital to the safety of SCADA networks. One of the first steps to increase security is to document the entire system, taking note of the areas where it connects to any internal network or to the Internet. Documenting each person who has access to the SCADA system also helps increase security.
Once the network has been thoroughly mapped, it is important to create standard security measures to ensure the long-term safety of the system. Everyone who has access to the network should employ report monitoring, security checks, and regular risk assessments.
As security threats constantly evolve and adapt, network security must be assessed and necessary changes should be made on an ongoing basis. Some specific security measures that can improve SCADA security include:
- Disconnecting unnecessary SCADA connections and strengthening necessary ones
- Removing unnecessary services
- Avoiding reliance on proprietary protocols for protection
- Setting up 24-hour incident monitoring
- Establishing strong authentication procedures over any backdoors into the SCADA network
- Performing regular technical audits
Get Help to Secure Your SCADA Systems
SCADA systems can be challenging to secure—but at Turner Integrated Systems, our experts are up to the task. We create personalized turnkey ICSs that are secured for use in your unique application.
From the very beginning of the project, our engineers will work closely with you to ensure that we fulfill your needs. We drastically reduce security vulnerabilities by keeping all designing and manufacturing in-house—and we provide full installation and documentation services once the project is complete.