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April 11, 2008

Headlines from Yesterday's Activities
- Yokogawa, SAP and the Middleware Space
- Defense-in-Depth Key to Secure Automation
- Organic Wireless Growth Must Be Managed
- Industry Struggling to Balance Performance with Security
- To Fix System Bugs, Wurldtech Gets Fuzzy Wid It

Yokogawa, SAP and the Middleware Space
“There are people,” began Dave Emerson, principal systems architect for Yokogawa Corp. of America, “who believe that a non-standard approach to integration allows them to continue to differentiate themselves in the market. They are wrong. In a standards-based approach, differentiation doesn’t disappear—it moves to higher value areas.”

Emerson, in his address on business and control system integration this week at the Yokogawa Users Conference, indicated that the standards-based approach Yokogawa takes—using the ISA88 and ISA95 toolsets he helped to pioneer—actually lowers the total cost of ownership (TCO), provides real economies of scale, removes costs from the supply chain and enables true interoperability.

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“It’s web services up and OPC down.” Yokogawa systems architect Dave Emerson explained where the company’s new MDX integration platform fits between process automation and enterprise systems.

 

Defense-in-Depth Key to Secure Automation
“The further backward you look, the further forward you can see,” Winston Churchill once said of the lessons to be learned from history. Turns out, the same principle applies to ensuring the security of process control systems.

Indeed, when it comes to cybersecurity—that is, the protection of process control systems from digital disruption—we, as an industry, tend to rely on techniques that the IT world gave up on 10 years ago, said Eric Byres, CTO of Byres Security, in an address to the Yokogawa Users Conference this week in Houston.

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“The firewall is important, but it’s only one piece,” said Byres Security CTO Eric Byres of the need for process automation professionals to consider a multi-tiered approach to cybersecurity.

 

Organic Wireless Growth Must Be Managed
Wireless applications in the plant environment continue to grow. Unfortunately, that organic growth of wireless devices and networks can become a tangled web of interference, according to Apprion CEO Mike Bradley, who spoke at the 2008 Yokogawa Technology Fair and Users Conference this week in Houston.

"As a plant becomes wireless and those circles get bigger and cover more of the map, it has to be managed,” he explained. “You may have 5,000 points from 25 vendors, and each one has a different configuration and management tool.”

Because so many wireless applications are being added, all on different systems and with varying bandwidth requirements, a plant’s myriad wireless networks need one management system that sits on top to coordinate communication and avoid interference.

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“Today it’s many proprietary point solutions.” Apprion CEO Mike Bradley on the evolving nature of wireless applications which three years from now, he estimated, will rely on standards-based, open and extensible frameworks.

 

Industry Struggling to Balance Performance with Security
“Until 2000, my job was engineering agile and usable control systems. That meant vulnerable control systems,” said Joe Weiss, principal of Applied Control Solutions and founder of the Real-Time Cyber Security Conference. “Security and performance are generally in conflict. By the time you get done putting in all the security as afterthoughts,” Weiss went on, “what you have is not a control system, it’s a doorstop!”

People who come to process control cybersecurity from the IT domain sometimes have a distorted view of what’s necessary and what’s practical. “It’s okay to shut down the mail server for four hours for maintenance,” he said, “but what happens when you shut down the plant?”

On June 10, 1999, a 16-in. diameter steel pipeline operated by the now-defunct Olympic Pipeline Co. ruptured near Bellingham, Wash., flooding two local creeks with 237,000 gallons of gasoline.

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“The vulnerabilities are starting to move downward into the control systems and field devices.” Security consultant Joe Weiss predicts that cyber events will affect increasing numbers of automation devices such as drives and PLCs.

 

To Fix System Bugs, Wurldtech Gets Fuzzy Wid It
The list of people who enjoy finding bugs more than Dr. Nate Kube isn’t very long. His company’s customers might be at the top of that short list. “When vendors or manufacturers use our stuff to find bugs, they’re just bugs,” explained the co-founder and CTO of Wurldtech Security Technologies. “When those bugs are found in the field, they’re security issues.”

Kube explained some of his company’s techniques for detecting software faults and failures at the 2008 Yokogawa Technology Fair and Users Conference this week in Houston.

“Anything can be hacked,” said Kube. “There need to be layers of protection to everything. People, quality and devices are all components to security. At the end of the day, don’t get comfortable just because you have antivirus protection.”

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“In a house, if you know where the doors and windows are, you have a better chance at securing it,” said Wurldtech CTO Nate Kube, in explaining the need for vulnerability testing during system development.


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