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SCADA Security Basics: Why are PLCs so Insecure?
Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: Erik Schweigert on March 09, 2016

As a software engineer who creates industrial security technologies I am often asked “Why are industrial networks so hard to secure?” This is a big topic, so today I will address only “Why are PLCs so insecure?”

The answer to this requires a walk down memory lane. If you are a controls engineer you already know some of what I have to say, though maybe not the security considerations this article addresses.

If you have another job function or work in another group such as IT, this article might provide you with useful baseline knowledge about industrial control system (ICS) security.


Eric Byres Receives ISA Award for Industrial Security Leadership
Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: on November 04, 2013

Today I am glad to be writing about a good news story. That story is that Belden’s Eric Byres is being awarded the ISA (International Society of Automation) Excellence in Leadership award for his contributions to the automation industry in the area of industrial security.

ISA President Terrence G. Ives remarked:

“When considering nominations, we look for someone whose vision has fostered a paradigm shift, whose leadership has profoundly impacted the profession, and whose contributions have enhanced social value. This award is a way to express our appreciation for Eric’s outstanding achievements to the industry.”


Defense in Depth Cyber Security for Substation Communications
Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: on February 10, 2016

This week, the largest electric utility trade show and conference in the U.S., DistribuTECH, is being held. One of the tracks in the conference portion of the event is “Defending the Grid.” The prominence of the topic at this show is due in part to new NERC CIP requirements designed to strengthen reliability and security. Another reason grid protection is a hot topic is high-profile cyberattacks such as the recent one on the Ukraine power system.

It adds up to one thing – it’s time to review the state of cyber defenses at your transmission substations. What then is the right approach to secure substations? It starts with the best practice of Defense in Depth.


Connecting and Securing Legacy Electrical Substations to the Smart Grid
Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: on April 29, 2015

Many North American power utilities have large numbers of isolated electrical substations that operate well but are equipped with legacy devices running on proprietary protocols. Impossible to monitor without someone physically visiting them, such substations prevent utilities from delivering on the promise of the smart grid.

Imagine you run a utility with hundreds of legacy substations that you cannot connect to from a central location. The longer you have this problem the longer your network is going to be out-of-step with an important capability.

Now imagine there is an easy way to connect legacy substations to a central system. “Fantastic,” you think, “What is it?” And “Does it bring with it any new problems? (For example, security issues.) In today’s article, I look at a cost-effective solution for this dilemma that both connects substations to the smart grid and secures them.


ICS Security: Essential Firewall Concepts
Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: Jeff Lund on May 04, 2016

While there are many benefits that have come to ICS and SCADA networks through the increased use of standard networking and Internet technologies, it has made the need to secure them ever more critical.

Firewalls play an important role in blocking threats and containing internal cyber incidents that could impact safety, reliability and productivity. They control the flow of communications and filter packets to block or contain harmful network traffic.

There are a number of technologies used to filter packets including Access Control Lists, Stateful Inspection and Deep Packet Inspection.

This article examines the essential firewall filtering concepts you need to know to make informed choices for designing a Defense in Depth security architecture.


One-Stop ICS Security Made Easy
Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: on June 10, 2015

“Engineers not specializing in cyber security often throw their hands up at security, it’s not what they do,” says Pat Differ, Director of Sales at Securicon LLC, a consulting firm specializing in cyber security services and solutions for critical infrastructure industries. “The result is they may end up relying heavily on IT-oriented or recommended solutions that are not meant for industrial applications.”

If this bears any resemblance to what is happening in your organization, we have good news for you. Belden has recently teamed up with Securicon to provide one-stop security solutions to our customers.

I recently had the opportunity to speak to Pat and Securicon’s CEO, Paul Hurley, to find out their thoughts on the state of industrial security. Read on to find out their innovative ideas about how to move forward on cyber security.


Duqu 2 Reminds Us to Defend Against Advanced Persistent Threats
Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: on June 24, 2015

Recently a previously identified malware, named Duqu , re-emerged in a very surprising way. It was detected attacking the systems of Kaspersky Lab, one of the leading cyber security firms in the world. And, it wasn’t just that it went after the experts’ systems that is amazing, what is also amazing is how it did it.

Kaspersky researchers said that “The philosophy and way of thinking of the ’Duqu 2.0‘ group is a generation ahead of anything seen in the APT world.” (APT stands for Advanced Persistent Threat.)

What is this new malware and how does it relate to ICS security?

While not a threat to ICS as far as we know today, it is a reminder that APTs are a type of risk that industrial operators should be evaluating on an ongoing basis. The goal here is to inform you, not alarm you, about this unique threat. Then we’ll revisit the best practices for defending industrial systems against APTs.


3 Ways Firewall Learning Mode Simplifies ICS Security
Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: on August 05, 2015

When you have a job to do, tools that are simple to use and designed for your industry go a long way towards helping you achieve results.

Industrial facilities are staffed by engineers, technicians and maintenance people, not security experts, so complicated IT firewalls are just that - complicated.

That’s why our firewalls have graphical tools that help controls specialists build traffic rules using terms and concepts that are familiar to them. For example, most engineers who use automation products do not know much about the control traffic traveling over their network. The system just works.

A capability of our devices, Firewall Learning Mode, removes a lot of the difficulty of configuring and testing firewalls. It also greatly reduces a traditional installation risk – network interruptions. Let’s find out more.


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