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Outsmarting SCADA Hackers

Posted by Dee McVicker on 9/29/16 9:09 AM

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SCADA hacking is on the rise. We just learned of another attack on a water treatment plant in which hacktivists were able to change chemical levels through the SCADA system. 

Water Treatment PlantAttacks targeting SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems rose 100 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year. These data control systems are now one of the more vulnerable when it comes to protecting our financial sectors, our infrastructures and our military operations.

As a result, SCADA sensors, devices, hardware and software are being fortified with the latest encryption and defense-grade security. But there is one potential leaky sieve that is so often overlooked: the communications link.

The communications link -- the very stitching that ties all those SCADA devices and hardware together and the backbone from which all software and data flow – was traditionally made up of twisted pair or coax cable. These more traditional routing options, however, put organizations at risk of data pirating due to their electrical emissions characteristics. Hackers can eavesdrop and manipulate data by tapping into these communication links, which is why we recommend fiber optic communications links for SCADA and other critical systems.

Optical fiber doesn’t emit electromagnetic radiation like copper cabling does, which makes it almost impossible to place a tap on a fiber optic cable for eavesdropping – or worse. Fiber optic communication links are also immune to lightning damage, EMP attacks, have low attenuation (data loss), and can go longer distances.

Topics: SCADA and Control