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There is no doubt the use of long-range communication networks, and especially the Internet, has revolutionized ICS-SCADA systems and architectures around the world.

The use of network communications in these systems is effective in remotely operating and maintaining these infrastructures in real-time.

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The catch is, though, this technology advancement also opens up the way for threats that can potentially compromise the efficient and secure operation of these systems.

These threats are not new; many come from the use of networking technologies – in use in IT areas for a long time now – which ultimately results in countermeasures being already available to mitigate or even eliminate them.

Cyber Security

Along those lines, the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), the center of network and information security expertise for the EU, conducted a study on communication network dependencies. The goal of the research is help asset owners defend their critical infrastructures from emerging cyber threats.

The main objective is to provide insight into the communication network interdependencies in industrial infrastructures and environments, mapping critical assets, assessing possible attacks and identifying potential good practices and security measures to apply.

After having mapped the most critical assets through interviews with experts in the field, the three most worrying potential attack scenarios, considering their potential impact and the assets that could end up affected.

A series of recommendations ended up developed including:
• Security should be a main consideration during the design phase of ICS-SCADA systems.
• Establish brainstorming and communication channels for the different participants in the lifecycle of the devices to exchange needs and solutions.
• Include the periodic ICS-SCADA device update process as part of the main operations of the systems.
• Promote increased collaboration amongst policy decision makers, manufacturers and operators at an EU Level.

“ICS-SCADA are at the core of European critical infrastructures, and have to be protected against emerging cyber threats, as more and more, attacks are affecting these systems,” said Prof. Udo Helmbrecht, ENISA executive director.

Click here to download the entire ENISA report.

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