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Securing SCADA systems

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Purpose ‐ Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems are widely used by utility companies during the production and distribution of oil, gas, chemicals, electric power, and water to control and monitor these operations. A cyber attack on a SCADA system cannot only result in a major financial disaster but also in devastating damage to public safety and health. The purpose of this paper is to survey the literature on the cyber security of SCADA systems and then suggest two categories of security solutions. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper proposes the use of secure socket layer/transport layer security (SSL/TLS) and IP security (IPsec) solutions, implemented on the test-bed at the University of Louisville, as the optimal choices when considering the level of security a solution can provide and the difficulty of implementing such a security measure. The paper analyzes these two solution choices, discuss their advantages and disadvantages, and present details on efficient ways of implementing these solutions. Findings ‐ The SSL/TLS solution to the protocol security using public domain toolkits such as OpenSSL may provide a fast, effective, and economical solution. However, the SSL/TLS protocol and its implementation toolkits have their limitations so this approach may need another enhancement. Practical implications ‐ IPsec can be used to provide IP-level security in addition to SSL/TLS. Originality/value ‐ The use of these enhanced security approaches in SCADA systems should effectively reduce the vulnerability of these critical systems to malicious cyber attacks, and thereby potentially avoiding the serious consequences of such attacks.
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Keywords: Data security; Electric power systems; Gas industry; Oil industry; Water supply

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 10 October 2008

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