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The Basics of SCADA Protection and Security Measures

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) security is a topic of increasing concern for network operators. SCADA systems monitor and control remote equipment, industrial processes, and critical infrastructure in real-time. It is important to prevent potential attackers from gaining access to your data or the malicious injection of bogus or harmful traffic.

To better understand why SCADA network security could be a concern for an organization, it is important to understand how SCADA communications are sent across a network.

SCADA Communication Moves From Sensor, to RTU, to HMI

At individual sites, individual sensors collect values from inputs and outputs, which are referred to as SCADA points. These values are sent from individual sensors to the RTU (Remote Terminal Unit), which forwards these SCADA communications to the Human-Machine Interface (HMI), or master station.

SCADA networks utilize a number of means for conducting these communications. Early SCADA communication took place over radio, modem, or dedicated serial lines. In today's SCADA systems, it is much more common for these communications to take place over SONET using Ethernet or LAN.

Expanding the LAN is an Expensive SCADA Security Solution

To ensure SCADA security, network operators could potentially extend their secure LAN to all of their remote sites. However, this is a very expensive technique, as extending LAN all the way out to remote sites just to achieve SCADA security can be an extremely expensive process.

An additional solution to alleviate operators of their SCADA cyber security concerns is to employ NetGuardian 832A RTU devices at their remote sites. These advanced RTU devices can provide many monitoring functions not found in other systems.

This allows for the interpretation of both discrete and analog alarms. That provides for more extensive and complete network history reports. The NetGuardian also provides for Derived Controls, which allow the operator to program-specific, automated responses to certain alarm combinations along with the network.

The NetGuardian 832A Reduces Security Threats Through Smooth LAN Transition

Expanding a LAN network to reach all remote sites is not always a feasible option in the real world. The NetGuardian 832A is designed to work with both LAN and fault-tolerant dedicated serial lines.

You can utilize the same RTU devices to provide SCADA security at all of your sites. This prevents expensive LAN installation when serial lines are available, or purchasing new RTU devices once the LAN has expanded. The NetGuardian 832A can be utilized to meet all types of SCADA security needs, and will grow along with the LAN network to provide security, regardless of a site's network connection.

Resources Related to SCADA Tutorials:
SCADA Tutorial White Paper.