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SCADA: Security Issues


SCADA based systems may be highly vulnerable. Its security has come under scrutiny due to increasing attacks from cyber-terrorism/warfare to which it has become a prey.

The Concerns

The issues addressed by the researchers on security of SCADA from such cyber terrorism dwells on some major concerns enumerated below:

  1. Little concern is shown towards authentication/security of the SCADA networks vis-à-vis their design, operation and deployment.
  2. There is often a mistaken notion that use of specialized interfaces and proprietary protocol provides an obscurity to SCADA system and thus gives it benefit of security.
  3. It is often wrongly perceived that because of some notional physical security, SCADA networks are fully secure.
  4. It is also wrongly believed that due to its non-linkage with internet, SCADA is supposed to be secure.

Consequences & Prevention

SCADA systems are usually intended for handling critical processes and have a mission to achieve. Therefore in the event of any cyber-terrorism attack on this system being successful, consequence could be as worse as loss or actual physical destruction of data leading to stupendous financial loss, theft or wrong use of processes and facilities and even direct or indirect loss of life. It remains a matter of speculation if such consequences can cause enough concern for industries to avoid use of SCADA platform which is mission-intensive in its applications and they change it to opt for some more secure architecture and configuration. However such thinking at this point of time may be a little far-fetched considering the belief in many decision-making people in the world of corporate and governments that comparatively low initial cost and advantages and benefits of SCADA system still outweigh the potential risk and associated cost if inflicted with cyber terrorism. Some security vendors in response to these risks are already on the job of developing specialized industrial solutions like firewall and VPN for SCADA networks based on TCP/IP.

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