SCADA Vulnerability Assessments

Contrary to the common belief, Vulnerability Assessments for SCADA systems are not hypothetical. Security reports in the United States mention North Korea, Russia, China and other international foreign criminals exploit SCADA systems for breaches frequently. Upon discovering vulnerabilities, these hackers are capable of injecting malware, creation of backdoors for system access and stealing sensitive data, jeopardizing national security.

The motivation for such attacks vary. While some demand monetary extortion, others want to gain political leverage. Whatever be the motive, the SCADA systems impact millions of lives, both directly and indirectly, which makes them critical national infrastructures.

Attacks on the SCADA systems are usually silent, which means that the system administrators have no way to determine whether the network has been breached or not. Here is where SCADA Vulnerability Assessment comes in handy.

SCADA Vulnerability Assessments

A SCADA vulnerability check assesses common SCADA threats and potential security vulnerabilities.

There are Three Steps to finding vulnerabilities in the SCADA systems:

Step 1:
Performing reconnaissance for gathering information on a target system.

Step 2:
Scanning the SCADA networks for open ports, possible backdoor injections and abnormal network activities.

Step 3:
Achieve the tasks to be executed as mentioned in the assessment timeline.

While this may sound simple, in reality, planning, execution and review of a vulnerability assessment for SCADA systems is quite exhaustive due to the very complex nature of the processes involved.

Since most technology is recent, it is usually paired with SCADA technologies, at least, a decade old. This type of pairing requires careful planning with security protocols intact. For hackers, this presents an excellent opportunity to recognize loopholes and create backdoor access mechanisms. Even a simple infected laptop with a wireless transmitter can be used for disabling safety valves, reporting false readings and manipulating data flow. If such issues are left unresolved, these vulnerabilities can cause catastrophic disasters, affecting the lives of millions of civilians.

How to conduct a SCADA Vulnerability Assessment

There are two ways to identify vulnerabilities and to plan to resolve potential threats.

These are:

a. The organization can conduct an in-house SCADA Vulnerability Assessment. There are a number of guides developed by the government which provide a rough overview for undertaking this process.

b. On a different note, the organization can use the services of experienced professionals who go through your SCADA systems systematically and thoroughly. They also develop plans for resolving identified issues and also provide training for the following of new security protocols by employees.

Hiring professionals is recommended as the outcome is better in terms of expertise, time saved, expenses incurred and compliance with safety protocols. Consultants are better familiar with current automation trends, threats while offering cutting-edge edge solutions for eliminating potential threats and future security attacks.


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