PLCopen forms Security working group for control systems | Automation.com

PLCopen forms Security working group for control systems

April 12, 2007 - With more and more controllers being equipped with an Ethernet interface, and even Internet access, the security issues are becoming more and more relevant for our market. Evaluations by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research being derived from the French Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, near Geneva, Switzerland, showed that this definitely is needed. CERN has a very open structure giving all the participating member countries access to their control systems, and as such, to their vulnerabilities.

For this reason PLCopen will start a new working group, called Security. The goal is to define a test bed and a set of routines, implementing a set of software tools and scripts to perform these test, and making this available to the public in order to be able prove a level of networking security within a broad set of control systems.

Or otherwise stated: a basic set of requirements and procedures for the cyber-security of control systems will be defined. Due to efforts in the open community, it is not the idea to create new tools, but to use those tools that are available and accepted in the community already – although normally outside the scope of industrial control. In the end, the suppliers have to commit themselves to these procedures, and show their customers that they fulfill these. Moreover, to stimulate these tests, PLCopen plans to make them readily available to the open market, so even other parties like users can do these tests. Or at least refer to them in their tenders.

The kick-off meeting is planned for May 3 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. This is a face-to-face meeting with all participants involved where missing items are identified, and homework divided over the participants in improving the test procedures.

New activity started: Motion and Safety
The combination of logic, motion, and safety in one environment provides the user with a harmonized view to the overall application in one software environment, including the safety and functional applications.

In practice this offers less educational efforts and simpler transfer of knowledge and application software between different controls. Also, it tackles the ‘not-invented-here syndrome’, which is often a cause of errors and additional costs, in particular in the safety application. By using pre-defined and tested functionality, combined with support in the programming environment, including language definition with subsets of functionality, one is able to add the safety related aspects to the application programs for easy commissioning.

With the safety environment and related function blocks defined, and even the first products available on the market, there is a need to clarify the combination of motion and safety.

Safety functionalities like mode selector, safely reduced speed, and several stop functionalities, have a direct link to the motion control.

This new activity wants to provide examples of this combination, making it easier and more natural for the user to integrate safety in their motion and logic application. This is a daunting task, since decomposition of a whole production line in several machine functionalities is foreseen, which again need to be handled per function on logic, motion and safety. However, the benefit is clear: guidance at this level is the basis for a smoother acceptance and usages, and moreover all suppliers need to create these examples anyhow, so a joint effort is effective.

User and educational institutes are invited to help specify the examples as well as the decomposition.

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