Useful Tips for Improving SCADA Security

SCADA systems include software as well as computers performing critical tasks and offering essential services for your critical infrastructure in the production floors. These systems ensure the reliability and efficiency of many manufacturing processes and because they include a data communications and connectivity aspect, it is imperative that organizations offer sufficient protection to the systems from variety of threats that could possibly compromise the normal operation of the system.

SCADA systems are generally used in monitoring the main parameters of the production processes. They also provide a control function in order to ensure that there is efficient control and provisioning of the most important services and functions in the facility.

The systems were initially built to perform monitoring functions of the production floors without any security aspect. SCADA systems, once installed, can operate for decades. Today’s environment is however of a different context and with different requirements which could be different from the one for which they were designed. They are more exposed to a variety of network security threats and they are more prone to cyber-threats. A lot of the modern SCADA systems deliver impeccable performance and are quite reliable and flexible. The only drawback is that they often lack sufficient security. Any impairment due to these security loopholes could potentially cause various security risks such as manipulation of operational data or even process redirection. More serious threats will cause a complete disruption of the most critical services.

When implementing SCADA systems, it is absolutely necessary for organizations to implement some SCADA security best practices that will ensure that the system is properly secured. Here are some useful tips on how you can improve this security:

Have an Industry-Standard Governance Framework

Operators should put in place very clear guidelines on how they are going to put in place clear governance framework. There is need for these operators to carry out a full risk assessment and also develop risk mitigation strategy. Controls should be implemented in the SCADA systems that will mitigate risks. Check out Parasyn

Offer Training

Training of SCADA engineers is very key to the realization of robust security practices that secure the systems. There is a gap between the knowledge of engineers and current security systems in place. Due to the long lifecycles of these systems, engineers may not have the most up-to-date information current SCADA infrastructure demands and new technologies as well as the protection measures that they need to implement in the current networking environment. Engineers should be trained in the use of the latest tools.

Implement Cross-Functional Engagement

Integrating SCADA systems into the company’s corporate infrastructure might leave behind some security gaps. There is the need for operators to enforce collaboration between the SCADA IT security systems and the SCADA engineers and support staff. This will ensure that adequate precautions are taken well in advance against potential vulnerabilities in the system.

Invest in Continual Improvement of the Systems

Because security threats change on a day to day basis, operators should invest in the continual improvement of their security. For example, the data acquisition software should be updated on a regular basis and the necessary security measures undertaken to protect data.

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