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Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition

Understand the composition of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition SCADA - Automation of critical infrastructure sector processes found in water works, power, and transportation systems continues to increase, placing control in the hands of a machine--with human oversight.

SCADA systems are made up of computers, networks and sensors; these systems perform various functions in most critical infrastructure sectors. However, they are pervasive in water, telecom, power & energy and transportation. Threats to SCADA may come not only in the form of terrorism, but from general internet threats (e.g. worms and viruses), recreational hackers, errors resulting from training programs or even disgruntled employees. The industry has generated a large base of relatively insecure systems, with chronic and pervasive vulnerabilities that have been observed during various security assessments. As pointed out by Ted Lewis, the command and control of SCADA is a problem. Although DHS has the primary responsibility, SCADA are spread among different agencies. Also, since there is no SCADA ISAC ( Information Sharing Analysis Center ), information sharing is at best vertical within each specific sector i.e. water sector shares with other water organizations but generally not with other sectors. Cyber attack is a major risk to SCADA systems. Although SCADA is vulnerable, damages thus far have been low. As a result, it has not gained the needed attention to support the allocation of resource funding. Just think, a terrorist may be able to hack a system and control the air traffic, train signals and switches, and the control of our water. We have seen the attacks on Yahoo, Sony, Target, and others showing us what actually can be done. Bruce Willis's Live Free or Die Hard, an internet based terrorist organization was systematically shutting down the US. Although fiction, this type of scenario could result in mass casualties.

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