Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Kootenai County Critical Infrastructure and SCADA

Sometimes people who live in Kootenai County apply the term "critical infrastructure" to larger metropolitan areas, not here. The federal definition of the term is in Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets: Definition and Identification, an October 1, 2004, report by the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service. Here's a list of critical infrastructures identified in the report. See how many apply to Kootenai County.

  1. Information and communications (telephone, radio/television broadcast, computer systems, etc.)
  2. Banking and finance
  3. Water supply
  4. Aviation
  5. Highways
  6. Mass transit
  7. Pipelines
  8. Rail
  9. Waterborne commerce
  10. Emergency law enforcement services
  11. Emergency fire service
  12. Continuity of government service
  13. Public health services, including prevention, surveillance, laboratory services, and personal health services; also including clinics and hospitals
  14. Electric power
  15. Oil and gas production, storage, and distribution

The list clearly shows that we have critical infrastructures in Kootenai County.

What is probably less clear, maybe even unknown to the reader, is that some or all of the systems in Kootenai County either already are or will be controlled by automated systems and monitored remotely by humans. The control and monitoring systems are collectively referred to as Supervisory Control and Data Acquistion systems, abbreviated SCADA. Since SCADA systems are more and more computer-based, they can be as vulnerable to attack as any other unprotected or underprotected computer system.

To provide information helping defend against SCADA systems attacks that could literally shut down or otherwise impair operations of any of the critical infrastructure systems listed above, the US government's Technical Support Working Group (TSWG) has an Infrastructure Protection Subgroup. This subgroup works to ensure the stability and reliability of the infrastructure systems that are vital to maintaining the national and economic security of the United States. The subgroup's focus areas are physical security, cyber security, and information analysis. The following TSWG-produced SCADA publications are available online:

For persons wishing a less technical overview of critical infrastructure SCADA security measures, the SANS Institute has published a white paper entitled Security for Critical Infrastructure SCADA Systems.


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