Understanding the Threat to SCADA Networks

There has been an increase on cyber-attacks on vital infrastructures and this has become a pandemic for organizations and governments all around the world. Metropolitan traffic control systems, power generations facilities, factories and even water treatment systems have become some of the key targets of cyber attackers. Furthermore, there have been reports of a wide array of data thefts, network breaches and even denial of service operations. The level of vulnerability in these organizations vary from standard issues such as systems with default only password to software bugs and configurations problems. As soon as the attacker runs a program that is able to access the controller, then there is a high chance of a cyber-attack. All these are potential threats to the SCADA networks.

Understanding SCADA and the SCADA systems

Vital infrastructure facilities such as oil, electricity, waste and gas depend on electrical, hydraulic, mechanical and other kinds of equipment. This equipment is managed by computer systems that are called controllers and sensors. The SCADA systems are also linked with the management systems to form a network that leverage ICS and SCADA solutions. Both SCADA and ICS allow for efficient data collection and analysis and help in system automation of equipment such as valves, pumps and relays. These systems have many benefits and have led to their wide adoption. Their stability and reliability helps vital infrastructure facilities to use both SCADAand ICS solutions for a very long time.

These networks were made to offer a reliable system management. In most cases, they don’t include mechanisms so as to cope up with the current security threats from both internal and external networks in the IT industry.

SCADA vulnerabilities

Many people believe that the SCADA system and ICS are separated from IT networks. Well, this is very true, but only as far as physical separation is concerned. Many SCADA systems are vulnerable to attacks because of the following reasons

Lack of monitoring

Lack of active network monitoring has played a major role in encouraging cyber-attacks. Without monitoring, it is not easy to identify suspicious activities, detect potential threats and react to the attacks promptly.

Slow updates

The SCADA systems are continually advancing. However, the problem is that with increased advancement, the vulnerability of the systems also increases and this attracts new attacks. Without the right systems in place managing software and firmware updates may not be convenient. However, the updates are still critical for optimum protection.

Lack of knowledge about devices

Devices that are connected to a SCADA system are easy to monitor and control as well as to update. However, not all devices have reporting equalities, meaning that there is little knowledge regarding network connected devices.

Not understanding traffic

Employees need to know the kind of traffic that is running through their networks.  Only then they can decide the best approach to take to respond to network threats. With the technological advancements in data analysis, one can get a vivid picture of the information collected from traffic monitoring and use such Intel for actionable intelligence. Please visit http://www.parasyn.com.au/data-acquisition-services-scada-systems-rtu-solutions/.