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NERC CIP compliance and PAS conference

, 29 October 2018 -- The Modbus protocol has enabled communications along a range of different devices that are connected to a single network. As a result of this protocol, the face of the industrial cyber security has also changed significantly.

Modbus can be referred to as a protocol for serial communications that was originally published under the license of Moicon, which is now known as Schneider Electric. It was designed back in 1979 with the prime aim of being used along with PLCs (programmable logic controllers). Today, Modbus is considered as a standard protocol for communications and is commonly used as a source for connections.

Modbus has evolved a lot ever since it was created. Today, it is primarily popular in the industrial environment for the following reasons:

Its development was done with the industrial applications in view

It is royalty-free and an open source

It is quite easy to maintain

Easy to deploy

No restrictions are placed on the vendors while moving the words and raw bits

The Modbus protocol has enabled communications along a range of different devices that are connected to a single network. As a result of this protocol, the face of the industrial cyber security has also changed significantly.

Quite often, Modbus is also used in order to form a connection between the RTU (remote terminal unit) and a supervisory computer.

The PAS technology conference that happened in Houston gained quite a lot of attention with regard to NERC CIP compliance. At this conference, two presentations regarding the compliance with NERC CIP were delivered by Southern Company which is a southeastern U.S. company. This company has about 4.4 million customers and carries a generation capacity of about 46000 megawatts.

Southern Company does not consider cybersecurity to be an option. Rather, it is considered as very important. This is because they have this requirement to address all the NERC standards of cybersecurity. The systems analyst of the Southern Company named Larry Spoonemore includes the following: a cyber device, systems, and assets inventory at all the 290 plants of the company, a proper management for the change process, and proper notifications system for the NERC cyber security compliance.

It is highly critical for manufacturers of varying sizes to have such systems right in place, based on some information that was shared by Southern Company on this conference. According to them, almost ⅓ of all the malware that exists today has been around since 2013. Apart from that, it was also added that there are about a million firewall breach attempts that Southern Company faces every day.

Every week, about 2 TB of data gets collected by the CSI data engine through all the plants of Southern Company. CSI here stands for Control System Integrity, which is more or less a system for the cybersecurity data collection that which Southern Company has employed. The 2 TB of data that gets collected then gets fed for data mining into the Integrity, according to Spoonemore. At the same time, their position with respect to the NERC compliance remains quite visible at all times via a cybersecurity dashboard.

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Submitted by thenewsgiraffe on Monday, 29 October 2018 at 10:34 PM
Category: News & Media
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