Industrial control systems are an integral part of the critical infrastructures of electric, water, oil/gas, chemicals, pipelines, and transportation. The capabilities of networking these systems provide unprecedented opportunities to improve productivity, reduce impacts on the environment, and help provide energy independence.
The Smart Grid is based on these networking capabilities. However, the same networking capabilities that can provide these benefits have also introduced cyber vulnerabilities that have resulted in these systems having been identified as one of the most vulnerable targets for the security of the United States. Consequently, various industry and government efforts have been initiated to address the cyber security of these critical systems.
Systems controlling critical infrastructure for generating, transmitting, distributing, storing, and utilizing energy as well as for processes in manufacturing are no longer isolated. The drive towards networked industrial control systems is due to several factors. Integration of geographically distributed assets through centralized control improves agility in responding to supply and demand fluctuations, reduces cost of operations and enables process efficiencies unachievable in the past.
For substations and pump-houses located in remote regions, network-based access reduces operational costs by enabling remote monitoring, debugging and maintenance. The ability to perform data gathering and audit-report generation from headquarters is central to keeping overhead costs of regulatory requirements in check.
A fundamental need in many industries including power and Oil and Natural Gas (ONG) industries is for instantaneous access to current operational data. This could be the specific gravity of oil flowing in the pipeline at any instant or the amount of power being generated by a hydroelectric power plant. Access to such data in real time enables energy brokers to trade commodities based on the latest production numbers and can save billions of dollars for utilities and ONGs.
Electric utilities are also required to provide real-time generation data to Independent Service Operators (ISOs) and other market entities. Many industries are also gravitating towards reducing the cost of physical security using IPTV and voice over IP (VoIP) to remotely monitor premises.
Source: Juniper Networks