Tuesday, August 10, 2010

DHS Building Teams to Test Power Plant Cybersecurity

Via ComputerWorld.com -

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly creating specialized teams of experts to test industrial control systems at U.S power plants for cybersecurity weaknesses.

According to an Associate Press report today, DHS has so far created four teams to conduct such assessments, according to Sean McGurk, director of control system security. McGurk told the news service that 10 teams are expected to be in the field next year as the program's annual budget grows from $10 million to $15 million.

McGurk did not immediately respond to a Computerworld request for an interview. However a DHS spokeswoman this afternoon confirmed the DHS plan as detailed in the Associated Press story.

She said the special teams are part of an Industrial Control Systems Computer Emergency Response Team (ICS CERT) that DHS has been building over the past year in response to worldwide cybersecurity threats against industry control systems.

The teams are being set up to help companies in critical infrastructure industries respond to and mitigate cyber incidents affecting industrial control systems, she said.

Each DHS team is said to be equipped with forensic tools, cables, converters and data storage equipment to be used to probe for and fix security vulnerabilities in control systems.

According to the report, the specialized DHS teams conducted 50 security assessments at power plants in the past year. In addition, teams were dispatched 13 times to investigate cyber incidents -- nine were found to be cyber intrusions and four were caused by operator error.


First-Reaction: It's about damn time....

Second-Reaction: Cybersecurity is good and assessing and protecting SCADA systems is long overdue. But let's remember, these critical infrastructure systems have a big physical presence and can have direct physical consequences on the public, if attacked. And good old bombs can still work...

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