Securing America’s Critical Infrastructure
Central Tech is pioneering new security practices for pipeline systems and other critical infrastructure.
Central Tech is helping keep America’s critical infrastructure safe with a proactive approach to Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition or SCADA.
SCADA systems are used for monitoring and controlling gas and oil pipelines, power plants, water supply facilities, heat supply grids, and combined control centers for municipal suppliers. SCADA systems help achieve the flow of oil or gas along the pipelines, while monitoring pressure and flow, detecting leakage and fraud, and reducing operating costs.
“SCADA is the invisible necessity of our lives,” said Clint Webb, SCADA Security Instructor for Central Tech’s Business and Industry Services division. “You don’t get Gatorade, hard drives, power, oil, manufactured goods – anything – without ICS and SCADA.”
An Industry Control System or ICS is the overall control component of an automated system. With SCADA, an ICS is linked over a wide system, such as a pipeline system or the power-grid, and provides sensitive and timely information back to the control centers.
An ICS removes the need for manual labor. For example, an ICS can be programmed to maintain fluid levels in a tank by opening and closing valves based on fluid measurements.
“A worker used to have to do that, but with ICS, it can be programmed and monitored from an office off-site,” Webb said. “For example, a Plains Pipeline employee in Cushing knows how much oil is flowing through a pipe in Midland, Texas, all thanks to the data acquisition in SCADA.”
To change programming in the past, technicians went to the site with a laptop and connected directly to the system. This need to go to the field created what is referred to as an “air-gap.” Due to advances in technology, control systems are being equipped with networking capabilities , so programming can occur from an office. However, because systems are being networked, there is a new need for security – that’s where Webb comes in.
Webb is developing a cohesive curriculum covering SCADA security, starting with cyber awareness and moving up to a three-day technician class, and culminating with a semester-long course for IT professionals in industry.
Students will start on SCADA simulator workbenches, then move on to a pipeline simulator, and finally graduate to a full-scale system – all located on-site at Central Tech’s Pipeline and Safety Training Center.
“Sooner or later, government regulations will be coming down on cyber security of power grids, pipelines, water treatment and chemical plants. Usually, the government regulations are general in nature, with no specific steps to reach the required standards,” Webb said. “This is where we come in. Companies are going to need to meet those security standards. We are helping create security plans for their industry and give them the best steps to secure what they’re operating.”
Webb is working with industry partners to develop appropriate curriculum, as well as acquire equipment for training.
Come visit the Central Tech Pipeline and Safety Training Center during Central Tech’s Open House on Sunday February 17 from 1-4pm and ask how SCADA impacts your life.
For more information about Business and Industry Services, please visit www.centraltechbis.com.