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NIST wants better SCADA security

Preparing the way for a test lab

America's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) wants to take a hand in addressing the SCADA industry's chronic insecurity, by building a test bed for industrial control systems.

The Reconfigurable Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Testbed is only in its earliest stages. According to this RFI, the organisation first wants to conduct research that will let it lay out the specs for the testbed.

“The goal of this system is to measure the performance of industrial control systems when instrumented with cyber-security protections in accordance with best practices prescribed by national and international standards and guidelines,” the RFI states.

Industrial automation a big driver of Internet of Things spending, running well ahead of their security.

As SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems have hit the Internet, their poor security has become clear. Everything from traffic management systems to power stations and airports, to pretty much everything (for a given definition of “everything”) is up for grabs, with the famous Shodan search engine lending a helping hand to find vulnerable systems.

NIST says its testbed will run a variety of industrial control scenarios, starting with simulating a chemical process called the Tennessee-Eastman problem.

“The TE problem is an ideal candidate for cyber-security investigation because it is an open-loop unstable process that requires closed-loop supervision to maintain process stability and optimize operating costs,” the RFI says. ®

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