5 Industrial Control System Cyber Security Mistakes

Posted by Bruce Billedeaux on April 16, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

Recently, I attended ICS Cyber Security (301) Training at the U.S. DHS CERT facility in Idaho Falls, Id. The five-day event featured hands-on training in discovering who and what is on the network, identifying vulnerabilities, learning how those vulnerabilities may be exploited, and learning defensive and mitigation strategies for ICSs (industrial control systems). Here are five key takeaways from that training. ICS Cyber Security 1. Spear phishing attacks Do you know how most computer networks a... Continue Reading

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The Loop, The Whole Loop, And Nothing But The Loop

Posted by Bruce Brandt on April 9, 2013 @ 8:20 am

As control engineers, we often get tunnel vision. We get very focused on a single task such as creating our control module configuration and lose sight of the bigger picture – creating a control system. While working on my bachelor’s degree, I worked as an instrument designer for big A&E firms that built power generation stations. My job was to specify instrumentation and control elements for these projects, design control panels, create loop sheets for the hookup of the electronic instruments, and installation details for the sensing side – or in the case of pneumatic instruments – the pneumatic tubing. At that point in my career, a loop was from sensor to controller and from controller to control element. I had nothing to do with specifying the controller itself, which at that time was typically a standalone device mounted on the control panel. I also completed all drawings... Continue Reading

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Fire Fighting 101: The Six Basics Of Service Calls

Posted by William Zupon on April 2, 2013 @ 8:53 am

For some of us, one of the most challenging type of work we will perform is a service call. Let’s start by defining a few different types of service calls: scheduled, follow-up, and fire fighting. The first service call type is a scheduled call where the tasks to complete are well defined. The call has been scheduled and planned well in advance, and you have had time to research the problem thoroughly and prepare for the visit. The next service call type is a follow-up where the system is familiar to you and maybe you have done some work with it on a previous visit. Although follow-up calls may not be as well thought out and planned in advance as the first, you do have some familiarity with the system and the customer. The third type of service call, and the one this discussion will focus on, is fire fighting. That’s the one where you get a call in the middle of the night or... Continue Reading

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Four Myths And Ideas About Creating The Next Generation Of Automation Engineers

Posted by Chad Harper on March 26, 2013 @ 8:41 am

Next Generation Of Automation EngineersThere seems to be a wealth of articles detailing the problems we have in our automation industries with finding and developing new talent. There are statistics that say there is a shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students in our universities, that there are not dedicated degrees that focus on automation, and that the demographics in our industry will drive us off a resource cliff. The conclusions in a lot of these articles recommend large, high-level initiatives to grow interest in STEM degrees at the high school and college level, and so... Continue Reading

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The Pace Of Technological Innovation, Or, Where’s My Flying Car?

Posted by Bruce Brandt on March 19, 2013 @ 9:19 am

New technologies, or more properly technology reporters, have promised us over and over that the latest innovation just unveiled will, in the very near future, transform our lives in ways we never imagined. Well, I’m still waiting for that flying car I was promised fifty years ago. Why can’t I buy one? That’s not to say that technology hasn’t delivered amazing things—it just didn’t always deliver the things we imagined, or that we were promised, when we first heard of them. This isn’t restricted to consumer products. Many of industrial products have suffered the same fate. In consumer markets, all it takes is one killer app for a technology to really take off. That seems to be the problem with the industrial market for control systems and devices: there are simply no killer apps that will pay for the migration, and corporations are all about getting a return on investmen... Continue Reading

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