Securing Control Systems with System Integrators

Last week both Tofino Security and Belden participated in the Control Systems Integrators Conference in Scottsdale Arizona. The conference is organized by the Control Systems Integrators Association (CSIA) and this year the event boasted 500 System Integrator companies in attendance.

Systems Integrators (SIs) are Key to Automation Companies

You have likely worked with a SI to introduce new equipment or to integrate technologies in your facility.  They are important enablers and many companies rely on their technical expertise, additional manpower and project management skills to achieve advances that cannot be realized with internal resources. 

CSIA members are audited to make sure they are both skilled technicians and good business people, providing a huge short cut when evaluating firms for a particular project.  The CSIA “Find an Integrator” application is a handy way to find a SI in your area, with the application and industry experience you need.


Eric Byres demonstrates the Tofino Industrial Security Solution for a Utility System Integrator from Florida.

Stuxnet has led to a High Interest in ICS Security

There was a high interest in industrial cyber security at the conference, as evidenced at Eric Byres’ presentation, which attracted more than 160 SIs.  The SIs are hearing from their clients that they need to take action to improve the cyber security in their operations, and they are looking for help from integrators.  In turn, the SIs are increasing their knowledge of the technologies available, and best practices for implementing them.

Many SIs knew of Stuxnet, and were eager to learn good cyber security practices to deal with advanced malware threats.   Eric’s talk generated lots of questions.  There was 15 minutes allotted for Q&A at the end, but the time ran out before all inquiries could be handled.

The interest in the industrial cyber security spilled over to demonstrations at the Belden booth.  The Tofino demo visually showed a natural gas compressor station operating normally.  Then a worm was introduced that cut off the HMI, blocking the operator’s visibility to the system, and eventually crashing the PLC.  People were amazed at how easy it is to bring down an operation.

Fortunately, Tofino with its deep packet inspection is available to block the worm’s activity on the network and secure the control system.  (Full Disclosure:  Tofino is our product and obviously we are enthusiastic about it!)

Aaron Dunnagan of Belden demonstrates Tofino for Mark Hoske, editor of Control Engineering.  Eric Byres, behind Aaron, observes.   The Tofino Industrial Security Solution was demonstrated on the exhibitor floor and at the Partners’ Round Table event.

SI Cimation Implements a Cyber Security Solution for an Offshore Oil and Gas Platform

An example of a SI providing excellent cyber security services is Cimation, a CSIA member located in Houston, New Orleans and Denver.  The company specializes in automation and industrial IT solutions for the energy sector.  Almost 5 years ago they were approached by an offshore oil and gas platform operator who wanted help to maximize the uptime and reliability of the platform.  

This was a large project and detailed information about it is available in the Case Study at the end of this article. Following is a brief summary:

To protect the facility, a perimeter firewall was used along with a Defense in Depth approach for operational systems.  The automation and business networks were isolated using managed switches and logical network segregation. Demilitarized Zones (DMZ) were used to protect the process control system from the Internet and from the business network. 

Then the control devices and systems were individually and collectively hardened using Tofino products.  The result was that only necessary traffic moved between layers, resulting in high security, reliability and availability.  The cyber security solution has been in operation for 4 years, and is meeting the reliability and availability standards of the client.

Securing Control Systems with System Integrators

I was energized by meeting numerous excellent SIs at CSIA and I believe that many of them have the expertise and capabilities to secure large control systems.  If you have not done so already, you might want to discuss cyber security with your regular SI. Alternatively, utilize CSIA resources to identify a company with the cyber security expertise you need. 

Do you have the skills in-house to improve your cyber security practices?  What role do you see SIs playing?  I look forward to hearing from you.

Related Content to Download

"SCADA and CIP Security in a Post-Stuxnet World"


Download this presentation and receive:

  • A summary of the Stuxnet malware and how it has affected SCADA and CIP security
  • Details about the possibility of a Son-of-Stuxnet
  • A tool for informing management about the implications of Stuxnet

Case Study:  Offshore Oil and Gas Platform Cyber Security Implementation

Related Links


RSS Feed Subscribe to the "Practical SCADA Security" news feed

Add new comment