By Matthew Hines
eWEEK.com Security Watch
April 25, 2009
The red lights are flashing, the gates are coming down, the train is
approaching, but traffic still hasn't moved out of the way.
IT systems, and their many inherent IT security vulnerabilities, have
encroached the United States grid infrastructure to the extent that our
most critical electrical, water, transportation and communications
systems are likely already vulnerable to cyber-attacks that could
produce disastrous results, top experts in the field maintain.
A panel of some of the most influential leaders in the arena of securing
U.S. infrastructure systems from electronic assault painted a dire
picture at the RSA Conference 2009 in San Francisco this week, warning
that organizations operating in the utilities, manufacturing and
telecommunications verticals, among others, need to address matters of
IT security today.
"Many organizations in the grid industries have a large IT staffs, but
they typically have small security teams, which speaks to the problems
that we're having in identifying and responding to the types of threats
that we're facing," said Jerry Dixon, a former U.S.-CERT Director who
currently works for security research specialists Team CYMRU. "We're
seeing a huge increase of probing looking for SCADA systems, mostly
coming from Asia."
Makers of infrastructure-oriented technologies such as the Supervisory
Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems referenced by the expert,
whose job at CERT involved performing security assessments for the
federal government, are adding remote access features and ties to shared
networks such as the Internet, making them more exposed to potential
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