Friday, 11 May 2012 17:32

DHS Questions Security of ISC

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DHS Questions Security of ISC

Operators of America’s power, water, and manufacturing facilities use industrial control systems (ICS) to manage them. However, the security of these systems, increasingly linked with Microsoft Windows and the Internet, is now under intense scrutiny because of growing awareness that they could be attacked and cause massive disruptions.

Industrial facility operators are making efforts to follow security procedures, such as using vulnerability-assessment scanning tools to check for needed patches in Windows. That said, ICS environments present special problems, said managers who spoke on the topic at a conference organized by the DHS.

"A lot of my ICS systems are running on Windows Server 2003," said Tracy Waller, a manager in the process and controls engineering division at Savannah River Site, the sprawling Department of Energy facility in Aiken, S.C. where nuclear-weapons-related tasks, such as processing tritium and managing waste, is done. Supervisory control and acquisition systems (SCADA) "don't play well with Microsoft patches," he noted. The problem is that it's not always clear ICS will work properly after Microsoft patches are applied. Sometimes vendors want customers to buy new ICS gear to keep up with Windows releases.

Currently, energy and manufacturing facilities are being openly warned by DHS and its Industrial Control Systems Computer Emergency Response Team that they are being targeted by attackers who will often try to infiltrate business networks, often through spear phishing attacks against employees, in order to also gain information about ICS operations.

While ICS and SCADA once seemed safely tucked away in the depths of engineering, they are now subject to security demands from the IT and security departments, and the two groups don't always get along. Eric Cosman, engineering consultant at Dow Chemical said cooperation there is fostered by inviting the IT division into the plants to promote constructive discussion and choices. But at the same time, he said he hoped IT security professionals would abandon the role of "high priest." Infighting between IT and the process engineers makes everyone look like "the kids who can't get things done," he warned.

The idea of cyberwar is starting to transform the once closed world of ICS vendors and users, forcing them to more vigorously debate the status of security on ICS networks. Based on much debate heard at this conference, there's tension between ICS vendors and users over security. Vendors say they want to improve their products, but when they do, they aren't even sure their customers know and make use of the security they provide.

Source: http://news.idg.no/cw/art.cfm?id=F6A00A23-93CE-4ADC-E9CC5545017384EC
Source: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/050912-ics-homeland-security-259119.html
Source: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/050912-ics-motorola-259135.html

Read 1228 times Last modified on Friday, 25 May 2012 18:55
Rich Wermske

My pedigree and bona fides are published elsewhere. That said, I respect that a few may wish to learn more about the private person behind the writing.  While I accept I am exceptionally introverted (tending toward the misanthropic), I do enjoy socializing and sharing time with like-minded individuals. I have a zeal for integrity, ethics, and the economics of both interpersonal and organizational behavior.

The product of multi-generational paternal dysfunction, I practice healthy recovery (sobriety date December 11, 2001).  I am endogamous in my close personal relationships and belong to a variety of tribes that shape my worldview (in no particular order):

☯ I participate in and enjoy most geek culture. ☯ I am a practicing Buddhist and a legally ordained minister. I like to believe that people of other spiritual/faith systems find me approachable.  I am a member of the GLBTQA community -- I married my long-time partner in a ceremony officiated by Jeralita "Jeri" Costa of Joyful Joinings on November 18, 2013, certificated in King County, Seattle WA. We celebrate an anniversary date of February 2, 2002.  I am a service-connected, disabled, American veteran (USAF).  I am a University of Houston alumnus (BBA/MIS) and currently studying as a post baccalaureate for an additional degree in Philosophy and Law, Values, & Policy.  I am a retired Bishop in the Church of Commerce and Capitalism; the story arch of my prosecuting and proselytizing the technological proletariat is now behind me.  I am a native Houstonian (and obviously Texan).  At 50 years old, I am a "child of the sixties" and consider the 80's to be my formative years.

As I still struggle with humility, I strive to make willingness, honesty, and open mindedness cornerstones in all my affairs. Fourteen years of sobriety has taught me that none of "this" means a thing if I'm unwilling, dishonest, or close minded.  Therefore I work hard on the things I believe in --

  • I believe we can always achieve more if we collaborate and compromise.
  • I believe that liberal(ism) is a good word/concept and something to be proud to support.  The modern, systematic corruption of liberal ideas is a living human tragedy.
  • I believe in a worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. The pragmatism of this site and my journey is rooted in both classical and social liberalism.
  • I believe in democratic elections and institutions including a media free of commercial and governmental bias.  Liberty and equality perish when a society becomes uneducated and/or ill-informed.
  • I believe in diversity of life and ideas.  Life and ideas can only flourish when the gene pool is vast and abundantly differentiated.
  • I believe in advancing balance in civil, social, and privacy rights such that all of humanity is continuously uplifted.
  • I believe in separation of church (spirituality) and state (governance) -- with neither in supremacy nor subjugation.
  • I believe in private (real or tangible) property explicitly excluding ideas, knowledge, and methods; such non-tangibles, by natural law, being free for all humanity and emancipated at conception.

While change and the uncertainty of the future may be uncomfortable, I do not fear the unknown; therefore:

    • I believe I must be willing to make difficult choices, that those choices may not be all that I desire, and that such may result in undesirable (or unintended) consequences;
    • I believe we must be willing to make mistakes or be wrong; and I am willing to change my mind if necessary.
I undertake to abide the five precepts of Buddhism; therefore:
  1. I believe it is wrong to kill or to knowingly allow others to kill.
  2. I believe it is wrong to steal or to knowingly allow others to steal.
  3. I believe in abstention from sexual misconduct.
  4. I believe it is wrong to lie or to knowingly allow others to lie.
  5. I believe in abstention from non-medicinal intoxicants as such clouds the mind.

Suicide, major depression, borderline personality, and alcoholism are feral monsters ever howling at my doorstep. However, despite my turbulent and tragic past, rare is the day where I have to rationalize, defend, or justify the actions of that person I see looking back at me in the mirror...

Website: www.wermske.com
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