As any SCADA system operator knows, keeping your Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system secure is of utmost importance. Yet, despite the best intentions, ensuring that your system remains cyber-safe can be daunting. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 10 tips to improve your SCADA cybersecurity posture. Implementing even just a few of these suggestions can make a big difference in protecting your systems and data from malicious actors. So without further ado, let’s get started.
What is a SCADA system?
Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) security framework is a software system that allows industrial organizations to maintain efficiency remotely or locally by gathering process data for more intelligent decisions.
Also, it helps directly interact with devices like sensors and valve pumps motors through a human-machine interface (HMI). SCADA systems are crucial in maintaining longevity and safety within an industry because they help prevent downtime.
SCADA networks and security controls
Security controls are essential for protecting SCADA networks from unauthorized access and tampering. Various security controls can protect SCADA systems, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, password protection, and data encryption.
SCADA devices are particularly vulnerable to attack because they often include critical infrastructure components such as power grids, water treatment plants, and manufacturing facilities. If attackers gain access to a SCADA network, they could sabotage or disable these vital systems.
For this reason, organizations must implement robust security controls to protect their SCADA network. By doing so, they can help ensure the safety and reliability of these vital systems.
SCADA systems and data acquisition
Two critical aspects of industrial control systems (ICS) are SCADA systems and data acquisition. SCADA systems monitor and control the industrial process, while data acquisition is responsible for acquiring process data from various input points in the system.
The primary purpose of data acquisition is to collect data from sensors so that it can be processed and monitored by the SCADA system. The data collected by the data acquisition system can be used for various purposes, such as fault detection, condition monitoring, and performance optimization.
Top 10 tips to improve SCADA cyber security controls
Get updated SCADA patches and versions.
Though many industrial businesses are still operating on old renditions of their SCADA network, routine updates deliver you access to the most delinquent components and enhance system availability. An outdated system can lead to security concerns when it needs to be updated with new patches or versions that protect against vulnerabilities for the business’ data integrity to remain intact during this process.
An integral step before moving further towards modernization, including analytics web-based interfaces. Make sure they’re up-to-date too.
Get SCADA standard implementation.
SCADA systems are complex and need to be designed with standards in mind. The benefits of standardization include lower costs, improved operational efficiency, and shorter roll-outs for teams who will maintain them later on down the line, all while ensuring compliance.
Tag name routines can help you take advantage of OPC UA Browse sources, so your process database is automatically created without human intervention, saving time and reducing potential errors.
Additionally, using standard communication protocols allows for interoperability with other control systems, giving you the flexibility to upgrade or integrate with new technologies in the future without having to redesign your entire SCADA network.
It can be tempting to take shortcuts and design a SCADA control system that is unique and tailored specifically to your needs, but in the long run, it may not be worth it. Standardization may seem like extra work and effort up front, but it will pay off in the end with a more streamlined, efficient system. So please take those standards seriously. Your future self will thank you for it.
Have a recovery plan
A recovery plan is essential to providing peace of mind and ensuring availability. It can be as simple or complex as you want, but it should always include strategies for backing up data in case something happens at your office location, such as if fires break out.
You could also implement secondary systems like client device alarms. They’re automatically triggered by any alerts from sensors across the building.
Get a solid data management system.
With the help of modern technologies, data is now obtainable by stakeholders who aren’t directly linked with SCADA systems. This allows them to make judgments such as directives and planning in case you need more resources for your business’s growth.
As the business grows and new systems are added, it’s crucial to have all data accessible to make decisions effectively. For example, Proficy Historian 2022 allows you to store information from different sources in one place while also integrating with CMMS or GIS software for greater visibility across your organization, no matter where they happen.
Establish alarm procedures
The right alarm strategy can mean slighter noise, quicker reactions, and increased productivity. With an efficient system in place, you’ll be able to quickly move from alarms through notifications, with no need for confusion or disorder. Many resources are available for managing your company’s safety measures, including those created by the International Society For Automation(ISA).
Work processes should be digitalized.
There are a lot of steps to go through when starting work on an SOP. These can include everything from reading instructions and following processes to implementing them into your SCADA security systems so that they’re automated for you.
The digital world has gone away with the need for paperwork; in return, we can create more efficient procedures. With this new technology, you can ensure consistency by automating every process step without human intervention.
Repeatability will become attained as each task is recorded, so there is no room left or questions unanswered, even if it takes multiple people working together at once. The ultimate goal? Accountability, because who else but yourself could manage such an important job?
Have connectivity to be organization-wide
Using SCADA connectivity across a whole establishment, company, or organization delivers a comprehensive view of performance. Data gaps are filled with this system’s data, increasing collaboration and providing consistency throughout different factories by connecting secure thin clients directly into hardware so information can be easily accessible at all levels within your business.h
You need current HMI/SCADA systems scalable to allow you to provide your crew with custom capabilities. With remote monitoring and management, they can get all necessary operational data on their device, a smartphone, PC, or even an older one supporting HTML5. This will save time for staff while quickening reaction times, so compliance issues no longer stand between business success rates.
But technology is constantly evolving, and so are the standards for regulatory compliance. That’s why it’s essential to consider a system with automatic software updates—no more scrambling to keep up with changing regulations or risking non-compliance due to outdated systems.
Activate navigation for model-based HMI
With modern HMI/SCADA systems, users can easily navigate through a model-based interface, no matter their device. This means that the same user experience will be had by all parties involved; regardless if you’re looking at an industrial computer screen or Honeywell’s newest batch of hydrogen sensors, it just makes sense.
Execute High-Performance HMI
High-Performance HMI screens are created to enhance operator efficiency. With a straightforward and constant innovation, these high-performance monitors increase situational understanding for both technicians in the field as well as headquarters staff members monitoring them remotely from afar using video feed or digital images that can be zoomed into at any point during an event without interrupting workflow, like old school analog displays would have done before now.
This means less time wasted on unnecessary trips indoors just so someone could re-examine the screen for more detail and better communication between parties at all times, resulting in a more streamlined and efficient process.
We hope you found this information helpful. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to SCADA cybersecurity, following these tips should help you improve your security posture and better protect your systems and data.
If you have any questions or need more assistance securing your SCADA network, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks for reading.