About this course
Before we tackle the subject of securing Industrial Control Systems / ICS, lets get to the basics.
Industrial Control systems are typically used in industries such as electric, water and wastewater, oil and natural gas, transportation, chemical, food and beverages and discrete manufacturing (like automotive, aerospace etc)
For example: The computers, network and the equipment used in power generation, such as the gas turbine, or the conveyor belt used in food and beverages or typically anything that is controlling a process in real world is called as Industrial control system.
OT / ICS means different things to different people. Unfortunately, the terms used are also often interchanged and misunderstood.
You might often hear people using terminologies such as OT Security, ICS Security, SCADA Security, IACS security so on and so forth.
It is to be noted that, they all don’t necessarily mean the same thing.
The following representation will help you understand the terminologies better.
OT – Operational Technology refers to computing systems that are used to manage and monitor Industrial operations (like mining operation control, oil and gas monitoring etc).
Whereas ICS / Industrial Control Systems are used to monitor and control industrial processes (like Conveyor belts in mining operation, power consumption on electricity grids, valve pressure in natural gas facility etc).
Also, ICS is an umbrella that includes both SCADA and DCS . SCADA is Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition and DCS is Distributed Control system.
You don’t have to know the differences between SCADA and DCS, we will cover this in the upcoming lessons. The key take away from this lesson is that, OT, ICS, SCADA and DCS mean different things, so we should not use in interchangeably without knowing the differences.
That’s very good question to ask.
For the safer side, we will rely on what the standards say.
ISA – International Society of Automation has developed series of standards for control systems and are adopted by IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).
They are famously known as ISA/IEC 62443 standards.
It defines ICS, DCS and SCADA systems belonging to the class of IACS (Industrial Automation and Control systems.
And hence the term IACS takes precedence over others, because ISA defines so .
Hope this is clear, if not do not worry, you will understand it when we see what each of these actually mean in upcoming lessons.
Do not get in to the debate of which term is right or wrong. Just ensure that you are discussing the common thing, regardless of the terms you use and focus on the solutions to the problems. We have enough problems to fix, naming conventions should be our least of concerns.
Comment below if you have any questions.
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Basics first. The more clear you are with this module, the easier it will be to grasp other concepts.
Before getting in to ICS security, let us explore what is OT / ICS
Why not just IT security! We will explore the difference and importance of OT Security.
Understanding why OT Security is important
The importance is clear when we know the differences.
Why is this a buzz word now? just a hype?
We will take a look at major cyber attacks in this lesson
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