Cyber security and the human factor

07/20/2010


Yesterday we received a press release from Siemens warning users of a potential cyber security problem with one of its systems: “Siemens was notified about the malware program (Trojan) that is targeting the Siemens software Simatic WinCC and PCS 7 on July 14.  The company immediately assembled a team of experts to evaluate the situation and is working with Microsoft and the distributors of virus scan programs, to analyze the likely consequences and the exact mode of operation of the virus. It has so far been established that the Trojan, which spreads via USB sticks and uses a Microsoft security breach, can affect Windows computers from XP upward.

It certainly looks like Siemens is taking appropriate measures to deal with this problem. If you have a system that may be affected, you should contact your Siemens representative immediately.

Whether this particular case affects you or not, you should ask yourself if you are taking appropriate precautions with your systems. Note that the malware spreads via USB sticks. That means someone in your plant has to insert an infected USB stick into your system for the infection to occur. The malware cannot gain access to your system without the help of someone inside. The answer? Make sure your people know that they must not bring in outside disks, memory sticks, software, etc. Nothing like that should ever get loaded onto your control networks. I’ve heard some users suggest that open USB ports on hardware used in control applications should be filled with epoxy. At first I thought that was hyperbole, but it’s probably a very practical suggestion.

If you are paying attention to cyber security matters, you should know that human factors are just as important as technical solutions. The most sophisticated locks won’t help your house if someone leaves the front door open. Control Engineering published an article on this very point in 2007, Cyber Security—The Human Factor. Allow me to quote from a relevant paragraph: “One attack vector for hackers to get into a company is to scatter thumb drives around the parking lot and grounds of the subject company. People going to work find them and can’t resist plugging one in. File names that show up sound interesting (a celebrity sex tape, for example) so someone will open one out of curiosity. A program launches that makes the person’s computer contact the hacker and allow a way to get in. It all happens so fast. Is that really possible? ‘A warning has been released about a family of worms that spreads by copying itself onto removable drives such as USB memory sticks, and then automatically runs when the device is next connected to a computer.’”

We published another related article in 2009, Securing Legacy Control Systems. Here’s a relevant quote about people from Sean McGurk (DHS) and Marty Edwards (Idaho National Labs) that offers words to live by: “Procedures are important, but people have to understand their role in keeping the plant safe. The DHS reports that social engineering is one of the biggest attack vectors. McGurk laments, ‘How often do we see vulnerabilities and exploits that are conducted as a result of poor operational practices because people don’t understand the need for security.’

“Marty Edwards, Idaho National Laboratory DHS CSSP manager, outlines the kind of cultural change that needs to happen: ‘One of the biggest challenges we have in security—whether it’s in control systems, or IT, or physical security—is creating that security culture, and you can do that regardless of the vintage of the equipment that you have. It’s your personnel. It’s your training. It’s the culture that they operate in.’

“From a safety perspective, industrial and processing areas have had that culture for some time, says Edwards. ‘You don’t do anything in a plant without thinking about what the safety ramifications are,’ he adds. ‘We must instill that same culture, so that before I do anything, I think about the security ramifications. Should I post a network drawing at a user group conference that contains all the most intimate details of our control system? That’s a change that everybody can make immediately, and it costs a lot less than replacing equipment.’”

Now, where did I leave that epoxy?



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
World-class maintenance: The three keys to success - Deploy people, process and technology; 2016 Lubrication Guide; Why hydraulic systems get hot
Flexible offshore fire protection; Big Data's impact on operations; Bridging the skills gap; Identifying security risks
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me