Securing Your Plant

Welcome to the first installment of Automation World’s Industrial Ethernet Review. In just a few years, Ethernet has become a de facto industrial networking standard. Even the industrial networks Devicenet, Foundation Fieldbus and Profibus have Ethernet extensions. But using a ubiquitous, commercial network to connect process and machine control can have serious implications.

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This magazine will be published quarterly and will focus on a different topic each time. The number-one concern about implementing standard Ethernet networks in manufacturing, and opening them up to the Internet, is security. In this issue are two articles focusing specifically on that topic, plus an article that looks at the acceptance of Ethernet on the factory floor. In the future, look for discussions of how engineers are using Ethernet as a control network, how automation and information technology professionals should and can work together, and a drill-down into network administration.

Follow-up Webcast

The information featured in this month’s publication will be expanded into a Webcast on March 15 with a stellar lineup of speakers, including Eric Byres, of the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Internet Engineering Lab; Bob MacDonald, of Procter & Gamble; and Scott Swartz, of the Naval Surface Warfare Center. This will also be an excellent opportunity for you to ask them the hard questions. You can register for the Webcast at www.automationworld.com/webcasts.

Byres, who serves as Research Manager for Critical Infrastructure Security at the BCIT’s Internet Engineering Lab, in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, left a position in process control for a career as an academic researcher focusing on network security. As I was planning this issue, he told me that since manufacturing professionals have borrowed this commercial technology, they should also seriously consider borrowing commercial security practices. In other words, automation engineers must begin to broaden their expertise from design and programming of control systems to include design and implementation of secure network systems.

Byres’ function is to show the seriousness of the topic and ways that hackers can gain access to control systems. We also went to industry specialists to gain an insight into ways intrusions can be prevented. Brian Singer has a day job at Rockwell Automation and is chair of the SP99 committee of the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society (ISA) on security. This puts him at the forefront of the industrial security fight, and his insights are included in this issue.

 

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