Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is a network comprising of computers and applications developed to perform important roles in providing fundamental and commodities to Americans. These services include water, electricity, natural gas, transportation, gasoline and waste treatment. The importance of these services has made it crucial to the nation to protect the SCADA monitoring system from any form of cyber attack. The SCADA monitoring software involves the analysis and collection of data. It also controls pieces of equipment such as valves and pumps from distant locations. This system was initially designed to ensure functionality and little attention was paid to security. The truth is that the security of the SCADA monitoring system is weak. It is vulnerable to process redirection, disruption of service and the manipulation of operational data which could lead to public safety concerns or even disrupt the nation’s critical infrastructure.
It is important that both the government and commercial organizations to ensure that their SCADA network is secure. The security of SCADA monitoring system can be improved by
Conducting a detailed risk analysis to identify all connections to SCADA network. This includes identifying and evaluating all LAN and WAN, the internet, dial-up or modem connections, and connections to third parties.
Evaluate and strengthen the security of any remaining connections to the SCADA monitoring system. This involves installing firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDSs) at each point of entry.
Toughen the SCADA monitoring system by disabling or removing unnecessary services. This is necessary especially when the systems are interconnected with other networks. A good example of a feature that needs to be disabled is the remote maintenance.
Desist from using proprietary protocols to protect your system. Do not depend on factory default configuration settings in securing your system. Ask vendors to reveal any backdoor to your SCADA systems.
Implement all the security related features provided by system vendors. Set all security features to provide the utmost level of security.
Be in control of all access to the SCADA network. If you must have backdoors or connections with vendors, then you must implement strong authentication features to secure all communications.
Install external and internal intrusion detection systems. This is necessary to alert network administrators of malicious network activity emanating from external or internal sources.
Carry out technical audits of SCADA networks and devices and other connected networks to identify potential security loopholes.
Carry out physical security analysis and survey of all remote sites that are connected to the SCADA network is important for SCADA cyber security.
Then it is important to set up an expert team saddled with the responsibility of identifying potential attack situations and also assess potential system vulnerabilities. Using the information from this expert team, you can then be able to evaluate a risk management protocol to access the information and establish appropriate strategies to serve as protection against such threats.