The Importance of SCADA Cybersecurity

By Koos van der Spek

In my previous blog, I mentioned that I would delve further into the various aspects of our "SCADA Cybersecurity Poster." In this blog, I will discuss the importance of SCADA cybersecurity for company executives and plant managers. What aspects are crucial for them when it comes to SCADA cybersecurity?

SCADA Cybersecurity

At the top of the list is preventing harm. No company wants to be known as an unsafe place to work or as a company that delivers unsafe products, especially in industries like pharmaceuticals and food production.

Furthermore, production continuity is of utmost importance. For example, a day without baking bread results in an immediate loss of revenue because consumers don't buy extra bread the following day.

The risk of production disruption no longer arises solely from technical failures, but also from hackers or other malicious actors who gain access to the computer systems that control the production facility. These actions can range from shutting down production systems to altering product compositions. Recall campaigns, legal claims, and reputational damage become potential consequences.

Unfortunately, at last week's Industrial Safety Congress, it became evident that cybersecurity threats are not yet taken seriously enough. The audience appeared to be more interested in functionality and safety than in cybersecurity.

But who poses these threats, and what drives them?

Threats can originate from other countries with an interest in disrupting production. However, I believe other countries are more likely to focus on research departments, spying on the compositions of existing and new products to introduce them to the market more quickly.

The risk of infiltration by so-called script kiddies, young individuals hacking for fun, is much greater. Why? Because it's so easy and becoming even easier. These script kiddies can readily access tools from the internet and initiate a hack. They don't need to fully understand how it works, yet they can gain access and cause (serious) damage. Nowadays, there are even scripts available for tools like Metasploit to target SCADA systems.

Furthermore, there's the risk of hackers conducting hacks out of conviction, such as when they disagree with the environmental policies of the organization.

The examples provided are just a few possibilities. Different industries have various reasons why they might be targeted for hacking, and it's highly recommended to conduct a thorough threat analysis.

In my next blog, I'll tell you more about the measures you can take in the realm of SCADA cybersecurity.

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