October 2019

Columns

Cybersecurity: Crucial defenses for critical infrastructures

A colleague of mine once suggested to a chemical plant operator that it was a good idea to apply patches to Windows-based supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) servers as soon as they become available every month—after all, a lot of them fix security vulnerabilities.

Small, D., NCC Group

A colleague of mine once suggested to a chemical plant operator that it was a good idea to apply patches to Windows-based supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) servers as soon as they become available every month—after all, a lot of them fix security vulnerabilities. The operator responded that taking down a SCADA system even for a few hours can cause processes to run at suboptimal configuration, and a 4-hr outage could cost the plant more than $350,000. Would my colleague like to come up with the money? A lesson can be learned here, but it is not the one you might think. It is that the operator fully understood the value of the information assets the SCADA system managed. That i

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