SCADA or Supervisory control and data acquisition is much more than just basic well-keeping. These systems control critical components of industrial automation networks and if they go haywire, can create problems for the entire parts associated with it. From directly interacting with the gears, valves in real time to monitoring and gathering data, SCADA systems require proper keeping and safety, because any defect can disrupt services for hundreds of people. SCADA systems are fast and reliable and come in handy for quality inspection and other services in the industry. The extent at which Supervisory control and data acquisition has impacted us can be felt that it serves as a backbone for major industries, from Energy to Power and Oil to Water & waste transportation.
Now that a system this strong exists to control entire industries, it is quite natural that major threats can unsettle it. SCADA system well keeping is not exactly an easy job to do because of the high level risk the systems tend to face.
Few years ago in Ohio, a nuclear power plant was taken off guard when a worm in the SCADA system kept it infected for over 5 hours, posing major threat to the residents. A lot of Symantec Intelligence agencies have published in detail how hackers can rig into a SCADA system and how vulnerable most of these systems are. Apart from these the most common SCADA security threats are –
1. Slow Updating of SCADA – These systems tend to update very soon because of new threat discoveries. If one cannot keep up to the pace of the updates, the entire industry faces threat of hacking, that can jeopardize entire mechanisms.
2. Lack of proper monitoring for SCADA – After knowing what it truly is, we are sure you know how important it is to be monitored and kept well. But the major problem here is that it is impossible to track any malicious activity until it actually happens.
3. Lack of proper pairing of SCADA systems – Linking devices to a SCADA System allows for far-flung monitoring and updates, but not all devices have equal reporting capabilities. Most SCADA systems have been developed gradually over time; it’s not scarce to see technology that’s 5 years old paired with technology that’s 15 years old.
4. Lack of knowledge of Traffic in SCADA systems – SCADA systems’ manager need to have proper knowledge of understanding the traffic on networks and how they operate. For example, a subverted system might check with a extraneous server once every 30, 45, or 180 days.
5. Holes in authentication programs – There are high chances that there may be authentication holes in the Supervisory control and data acquisition systems that can disrupt the overall system. Though SCADA penetration testing can reveal any such problems, working without them is risky.