Get grounded; No hysteria

Instead of getting caught up in the hysteria of vulnerability or an attack, manufacturers have to understand their core technologies and make sure they protect them.


ISS SourceInstead of getting caught up in the hysteria of vulnerability or an attack, manufacturers have to understand their core technologies and make sure they protect them.

“Yes, bad things do exist in the real world,” said Tyler Williams, co-founder and president of Wurldtech during his Tuesday talk at the 2011 Siemens Automation Summit in Orlando, Fla., entitled, “How to determine threats and risks of industrial control systems.”

“The world is becoming more connected and there is some apprehension about that.”

The end result of an attack is very real; it could be financial, health and safety, and a risk to your company’s reputation, Williams said.

“If you lose view and control, bad consequences can happen,” Williams said.

“The reality is there is a strong integration with previously isolated domains such as the enterprise, R+D, and engineering,” said Stefan Woronka, director of industrial security services in process automation at Siemens, who gave the talk with Williams. “The days of air gapped systems are history. Now you see the rapid adoption of IT into the work space.”

At the end of the day, though, users have to understand what their system are and where their priorities stand. In other words, they should go about doing a risk assessment to understand just what and where they have to protect.

After a risk assessment a company has to come up with a strategic plan. “You have to be proactive in the prevention and detection of bad things,” Williams said.

In addition, manufacturers have to develop roles and responsibilities for personnel. “You need a mission statement, but understand if the security issues does not affect the process, then don’t worry about it right now,” he said.

Another thing users have to do is demonstrate and define success factors. “Make sure security is included in all elements,” he said.

When you do call in a security expert, and they find vulnerability, you have to ask “How easy was it to find and what was the impact?” This way if the problem is not part of your core system, then you shouldn’t over react and spend money on something you don’t need to address right away.

Manufacturing engineers also have to understand when you start using terms like defense in depth you have to speak the same language as those who will fund any kind of security scenario. You must talk in dollars and cents.

“Defense in depth works,” Williams said, “but you have to put it in the business factors that catch the eye of executives. You should treat security like any budget line item, and make a strong business case first.”

- Edited by Amanda McLeman, Plant Engineering,

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