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The National Institute of Standards and Technology wants to create a test bed to examine industrial control systems for cyber security vulnerabilities.

Industrial control systems (ICS) or SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems operate critical infrastructure, such as dams, gas plants, petroleum refineries and chemical manufacturing plants.

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Hackers can potentially wreak havoc with assaults on such systems. In late June, for example, a targeted malware attack on SCADA systems called Havex ended up discovered by the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that could have allowed intruders to take over Internet-connected systems.

NIST is trying to get ahead of attackers by developing a simulation system that emulates the operations of specific industrial situations.

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The simulation rack will provide NIST’s researchers the opportunity to probe systems for flaws and examine the efficacy of certain network security approaches, including deep packet inspection of network traffic, encryption, user authentication, and security software like anti-virus protection.

In a request for information , NIST is soliciting feedback from vendors interested in designing and building simulation racks of SCADA systems for testing purposes.

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