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Industrial Network Security – is the Process Control World getting Serious about it?

Recently a partner of ours, Invensys Operations Management, won the prestigious Breakthrough Product of the Year Award for 2010 from Processing Magazine. They won it for a product that we helped engineer, the Triconex Tofino OPC Firewall.

We think this is a big deal for two reasons. Obviously one reason is that a product we help create won a major award – pretty cool.

But the other reason may be more important to the industry as a whole. That is the fact that a Network Security product actually won a Process Control products award!

Certainly Tofino and others in the ICS/SCADA security space (like Industrial Defender) have won awards in the past, but these awards have been from the non-control systems organizations – typically IT-focused groups like SANS - that feel the importance of security in their bones.

In the control system world, security just wasn’t part of mainstream engineering concerns. Not all that long ago I heard a senior executive at a major DCS vendor say that their real customers just didn’t care about industrial network security and sure weren’t going to pay for it.

Maybe we can thank Stuxnet, but over the last six months security has become important to the process control industries as a whole. This award is just one more indication of that. The energy and new faces at the Fall ICSJWG meeting  are another example. The increased numbers of people downloading white papers on topics like OPC Security Best Practices is up by a third.

If you believe that control systems need to be secure to be safe, this all is great news. After a decade in the wilderness, the process control world might finally be getting serious about security.

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