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Is This Really A Good Idea?




Is This Really A Good Idea?
Is This Really A Good Idea?



http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2008/03/is_this_really.html 

By George Hulme
InformationWeek 
Mar 4, 2008

In a world concerned with terrorism, is providing the capability to 
monitor factory and plant information from a handheld device really a 
good idea?

A recent story [1] in U.K.-based magazine Drives & Controls explains 
that a German software maker, Schad, has made available a remote access 
SCADA tool, dubbed the Extend 7000, that runs from a BlackBerry.

In case you're not familiar with SCADA, it's an acronym for Supervisory 
Control And Data Acquisition. SCADA systems are used to manage 
factories, manufacturing plants, and power utilities. Over the years, 
I've interviewed many experts on the topic, and most agreed that SCADA 
systems were never designed with security in mind, and that the systems 
are vulnerable to attack.

That said, there have been very few documented cases, at least 
publically, of SCADA systems being successfully hacked.

Nonetheless, I don't think it's a good idea to provide access to 
critical factory assets from a wireless device. According to the news 
story, the Schad system can control and monitor industrial processes 
using some systems from Siemens. Some of the features include being able 
to monitor machine speeds, temperatures, and pressures, and even get 
alerts if something is going awry.

Fine.

But it's the part about "accessing plans and instructions for 
maintenance purposes" that I find concerning.

Do we really want to make plans and equipment information in certain 
industries so easily accessible? I don't think so. Hopefully, these are 
used on private networks, and not connected to the Internet.

And hopefully, the system remains a monitoring tool, and the 
"Supervisory Control" aspect of SCADA isn't added to any wireless 
device. But I suspect, over time, the temptation to do so, for sheer 
convenience and time savings, will be too great.

[1] http://www.drives.co.uk/fullstory.asp?id=2232 


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