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Critical infrastructure has become a target to more and more cyber attacks. Recent cyberattacks against oil pipeline giant Colonial Pipeline and other organizations in the US highlight the urgent need to increase cybersecurity.
Given the increasing popularity of the use of internet-based systems to monitor industrial processes, companies are vulnerable to denial-of-service, spoof or spam attacks, among many others.
Currently, many industrial control systems are run by supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, which are a mixture of software and hardware components that enable the control of facilities like production plants.
SCADA is a control system architecture that comprises computer systems, networked data communications, and Graphical User Interface (GUI) for a high-level process supervisory management. In addition, SCADA also incorporates other peripheral devices such as discrete Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) to interface with process machinery or plant.
Companies typically use industrial control systems, and by extension SCADA systems, to gather real-time data on all aspects of industrial production, ranging from the refining of oil to the control of waste disposal and even coordinating the transportation of goods.
SCADA systems are primarily made secure through local area network (LAN) and WAN devices. These tools allow for increased monitoring of SCADA processes. However, these systems can be breached in a variety of ways.
A blockchain framework could help prevent such attacks, especially if it encompasses internet-of-things, 5G and other emerging technologies, according to scmp.com.
Blockchain is focused on creating trust in an untrusting ecosystem, making it a potentially strong cybersecurity technology. Blockchain could provide increased security for SCADA systems by acting as an instrument of authentication, authorization and non-repudiation of critical data.
Two specific cases that blockchain could be used in are as a secure protocol between SCADA display units and remote terminal units, and as a verification tool to validate system firmware and software.
Integrating blockchain technology with internet-of-things devices and 5G could add additional layers of security for SCADA systems. While powerful in their own respects, combining these revolutionary technologies through all-encompassing tools like private networks are the best way to secure SCADA systems in both the short and long term.