Posts Tagged ‘productivity’

Monday, April 28, 2014 @ 02:04 PM gHale

As cyber attacks get more sophisticated, costly and abundant, there is a continuing need to elevate security awareness to the same level as safety – ensuring not only a safe, but also a secure manufacturing environment, while increasing productivity, uptime and profitability.

While security awareness is slowly growing, it suffers from an identity crisis at manufacturing facilities across the globe. Big, small or anything in between, there is a general lack of understanding for security best practices.

Just look at some of the facts: Reported cyber attacks have grown by 600 percent since 2010. 600 percent. On top of that, the industry is losing around $400 billion a year in cyber attacks. There is no doubt cyber attacks are the most common and most costly attacks in industrial control systems.

It is easy to get lost on the enormity of a security solution, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, there are answers and it starts with technology. But technology ends up being a solid tool. In the end, people wield the power. That means security culture must be on a par with safety to effectively protect against cyber attacks.

Join Honeywell Process Solutions’ Director of Cyber Security Solutions and Technology, Eric Knapp and ISSSource May 15 at 2 p.m. eastern time for a webinar that focuses on how to get security awareness on the same level as safety.

In the webcast we will discuss:
• Quickly Evolving Needs of Security Compared to Safety
• Proactive Security Approach
• Driving Awareness and Implementation of Security Measures
• Standards and Government Legislation is Slow in Development

Register here for Security Awareness: A Matter of Safety.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 @ 07:12 PM gHale

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from the Practical SCADA Security blog at Tofino Security.
By Eric Byres
Industry needs to quickly come to terms with the bring your own device (BYOD) trend if we are ever going make our plant floors secure.

Let’s start with mobile devices, especially personal mobile devices, showing up on the plant floor. Never going to happen you say? Don’t be so sure.

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First, a definition. The topic of personal mobile devices is referred to in the corporate IT world as “Bring Your Own Device” or BYOD. If you haven’t heard of BYOD, Wikipedia defines it as: Bring your own device (BYOD) is a business policy of employees bringing personally owned mobile devices to their place of work and using those devices to access privileged company resources

A common example is using your personal iPhone to access your company’s email system. And as I will explain later, the iPhone is only the tip of the iceberg. The whole BYOD phenomenon is a major concern throughout the corporate world.

An iceberg is a good metaphor for the onslaught of this technology. When dealing with an iceberg, pushing against it or ignoring it generally aren’t effective options. It is bigger than you are and will go where it wants. The best you can do is to try to manage it.

Most IT departments are beginning to accept the inevitability of BYOD. According to a one study, the majority of companies surveyed said they are now adapting their IT infrastructure to accommodate employee’s personal devices, rather than restricting employee use of personal devices.

What about the plant floor? Will tablets soon be standard equipment in the refinery? Or will they be banned from moving outside the corporate office?

When engineers are asked to identify their unfulfilled industrial networking desires, the number 1 item is: “Connecting to the factory with a smart phone”.

I have discussed in the past that in any war between security and productivity, security will lose. The situation is no different here. Smart phones are coming to the plant floor. The only question is “Will we adapt to this new world in a secure way or will it be another source of insecurity”?

One option for the mobile device question is to just ban them outright. There are cases when this might be appropriate (explosive environments for example), but generally outright bans rarely work the way people want them to. One of the reasons is we have a tendency to see technology only in terms of what is available today or what is popular. This results in narrow definitions of a specific technology that lets other technologies slip through. For example, an iPhone is clearly a mobile device, but what about a personal USB keyboard or mouse that an employee brings in, perhaps for health reasons?

Sometimes a “mobile device” isn’t even a device at all. Consider a CD that contains a Stuxnet-infected S7 ladder logic file. Or an automated forklift that moves from site to site. At the extreme end, many people know we have been working with Boeing for the past few years – they have large mobile devices called 787s. What is important to remember is mobile devices can range from a CD with what appears to be an innocent document file, to the obvious iPhone, right up to entire mobile platforms.

The only way to address this range of evolving “mobile” technology is to use the Zone and Conduit concepts promoted in the ISA/IEC 62443 standards. Properly done, zone and conduit security can result in operational requirements that define a security process, rather than proscriptive requirements like “Mobile Devices should not be used on the plant floor.” Restricting devices seems simple and comforting, but since this is so narrow, restrictive and inflexible, it encourages inventive staff to find ways around the rules so they can do their job.

Recently I talked to a customer with a very innovative way to manage Wi-Fi-capable mobile devices on his factory floor. Instead of banning wireless technologies (something that is hard to enforce if you have a lot of contractors), he actually set installed Wi-Fi access points throughout the manufacturing areas. Then he routed all the access points into a “Captive Portal” – one of those locked down web pages you run into in hotels and airports.

This Captive Portal strategy had multiple benefits – first he immediately had a record of who was trying to use Wi-Fi in his factory. Second, by forcing all employees and contractors to log in, he could track exactly what they were doing and when. Then, based on each user’s log-in credentials, he could restrict network access to specific systems in his factory. For example, a contractor working on the Finishing Line could be restricted to only seeing the Finishing Line PLCs. And finally, by using deep packet inspection, he could force the contractors into a view-only mode by blocking all PLC write and programming commands.

Information technologies are changing constantly. Trying to manage them with proscriptive rules is a hopeless task, because we can never keep up. Instead we need to work from general principles. For example, the definition of mobile device can expand from specific technologies (such as cell phones) to a definition based on their general functionality. For example, one proposed definition is “non-fixed location digital information storage or processing devices”. That covers basically anything that can contain an electronic 1 or a 0 and isn’t bolted down.

Once we have our definitions set, we can move onto determining what actions we want to manage. The example with the captive portal showed how all Wi-Fi devices (rather than subsets like laptop or iPad) can be managed in a uniform manner. If we stick to those principles, I believe we can have mobile devices and security at the same time.

Eric Byres is vice president and chief technology officer at Tofino Security. Click here to read the full version of the Practical SCADA Security blog and to download the white paper.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 @ 11:11 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
Safety is job one for a manufacturer, but it can also be a growth driver through risk leadership.

“Every 15 seconds one employee dies around the world in some type of work related accident,” said Cal Beyer, vice president and head of manufacturing of customer industry segments at Zurich North America during his keynote address Tuesday at Rockwell Automation’s Safety Automaton Forum in Philadelphia. “We have an opportunity as safety leaders to have an impact and make industrial automation safer.”

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That is why Beyer said safety, insurance and risk management can lead the way for a company.

“The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be your only competitive advantage,” he said. “Risk leadership is when we can leverage risk to make a profit.”

Mark Eitzman, safety market development manager at Rockwell Automation, couldn’t agree more.

“Without profitability a business will not exist,” Eitzman said in his preamble to the keynote address. “What is the place of safety? Is safety seen as a balancing act or is a contributor to the health and security of the business?”

While Beyer’s business is insurance, he knows what a company needs to do to leverage all its assets – and that means safety. That is why he kept talking about how to create that competitive advantage. He also added a company’s reputation is “an intangible benefit that helps your company. Safety can truly be the source of competitive advantage because it can reduce the total cost of goods and the total cost of risk. It can impact image and reputation.”

To create a sustainable competitive advantage, Beyer said a company has to:
• Become or remain an employer of choice
• Experience less voluntary employee attrition
• Retain existing customer base
• Attract new customers
• Expand market share
• Enhance the ability to forge strategic partnerships and alliances
• Differentiate from competitors

He also listed the top common causes of supply chain disruption: Accidents, production problems, labor, natural disasters, sabotage/terrorism, financial loss, demand variability, physical

“Accidents are number one and we have the opportunity to have an impact to make our organizations safe and have a competitive advantage.”

“That is why the critical questions you need to ask: Is safety a source of competitive advantage? How does your company measure safety? Are you practicing risk management or luck management?” Beyer asked.

Safety, in the end, always comes down to culture and to what degree a company has it sewn into its very fabric of being.

“How do you know safety is embedded into your workers hearts and minds and embedded into the culture of your company?” Beyer asked.

It does seem safety is growing in the minds of companies as globally, frequency rates of injuries is decreasing. However, worker injury does remain the leading line of insurance in the U.S.

“Safety performance gaps are where accidents occur,” he said.”It is the difference between what is expected of us and what is accepted by company leadership.”

To make the business case for change, Beyer gave the following steps:
• Align safety focus with productivity and profitability results
• Dual focus: Loss minimization and profit maximization
• Shift to leading indicators to focus on prevention-based activities
• Calculate total cost of accidents and Total Cost of Risk
• Apportion premium and charge-back loss costs to operating units (departments/divisions)
• Fund for preventive and corrective actions from corporate budget (costly to have accidents, not to prevent them)
• Promote and incentivize through bonus managers & supervisors based upon both safety and production performance

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 @ 12:08 PM gHale

Vital New Approach to a Defense in Depth Security Program

By Gregory Hale
It wasn’t that long ago deep within eastern Tennessee’s Anderson and Roane counties, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) fell victim to a hack attack where several megabytes of data ended up stolen.

That 2011 attack started when multiple Lab employees clicked on a link in a phishing email disguised to look like benefits information from the human resources department. Hackers were aware of a Zero Day vulnerability in the Lab’s Internet Explorer browser software and they knew just how to take advantage of it.

Lab workers became aware of the intrusion on April 11 and that started them on a frenetic hunt to find a way to stop the attack. By April 15, Lab management came to the ultimate decision: Unplug the Internet. No connection in or out. The attack stopped; so did any hope of using the Internet for the next two weeks.

Work continued at the lab — home to nuclear, chemical and biotechnology research centers — but any kind of communication or interaction or connection to outside sources was gone. Productivity was lost for a two-week period.

To win and gain an advantage today, manufacturing and process businesses must adapt quickly to change. Time to make decisions and take action is more compact. That makes timely distribution of reliable information vital. In today’s business climate, data needs to go out to operations, engineering and management in the proper context. That all means manufacturers must increase accessibility to the system and, while exchanging business and process information is necessary, it does open the door to intrusions.

That is why a solid defense in depth security program is essential for manufacturers, including antivirus, blacklisting, firewalls and whitelisting to name a few. Security ends up being a process of working with and creating continuously-evolving strategies to fend off attackers, who always find new ways to steal information, data, money or whatever they can get their digital hands on.

Whitelisting to Rescue
One of the newer ways to fend off would-be attackers is to create an application whitelisting program.

The goal of application whitelisting for an industrial control system is to prevent unauthorized applications from running, enforce a list of approved applications, include an administration tool that allows for adjustment to the whitelist, and monitor and report attempts to violate the policy.

“If you look at the basic premise of application whitelisting, it is turning patching upside down,” said Rick Kaun, global business manager Industrial IT Solutions at Honeywell Process Solutions. “I use the analogy of being in a night club. As long as you don’t cause trouble, you are allowed in. That means the bad guys can get in and you don’t find out about it until they are causing trouble. Once I know about you, I put a picture of you at the front door and the bouncer does not let you in next time. That is what antivirus is. Whitelisting is the other. Three couples come to your house for dinner. It is a very expected list. You know what to do.”

“If you look at the basic premise of application whitelisting, it is turning patching upside down.”

– Rick Kaun, Honeywell Process Solutions

Antivirus used to be a great tool that could stop an attack cold. Antivirus’, or blacklisting’s stated goal is to keep all the bad players out of the system by defining a list of file formats the antivirus mechanism does not allow. Plug in the software and watch it do its magic. Antivirus these days is a staple for a security solution, but it cannot work alone any more. With new versions of malware hitting the cyber street every day, antivirus just can’t keep up. New variants pop up that can totally evade any detection.

Just in the first quarter this year alone, malware had its biggest increase in more than four years, according to a report from security software provider, McAfee. The number of samples taken was at 83 million, according to McAfee’s quarterly security report. Fake antivirus programs declined in popularity, but software with faked security signatures, rootkits and password-stealing Trojans rose. McAfee counted 200,000 new examples of password-stealing Trojan horses. That is in just one quarter.

Tandem Effort
As a part of a defense in depth posture, manufacturers need whitelisting to play off antivirus.

“They have to work together,” said Mike Baldi, chief cyber security architect for Honeywell Process Solutions. “Our recommendation for industrial control systems is for them to work together. The technologies are not designed to know about each other so they need to be configured to work together otherwise they can conflict. We have seen that scenario. We do feel it is the best protection for a system to have antivirus and whitelisting installed.”

“I don’t think anyone can just stand up with just one,” Kaun said. “A lot of people are standing up with just blacklisting today because whitelisting is such a challenge, but you really shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

The two technologies need to work together to act as a back up or there could be a problem.

“I can give an example of how they couldn’t work together,” Baldi said. “Both technologies intercept system operations when you open a file. If you have two applications trying to open the same file at the same time, you can get into system contention problems and they could actually cause one or the other applications to fail. For example, whitelisting runs at the kernel mode so it could block antivirus from doing its job. Antivirus could encounter errors because whitelisting was using a file as it was being opened. So, the two applications have to be aware of each other. There is also some scanning that is done by antivirus that needs to be accounted for and whitelisting needs to allow that.”

Thinking whitelisting was complex has always been one of the issues behind why manufacturers shied away from implementing a program.

“When it comes to process control, I think whitelisting is very well-suited and incredibly challenging,” Kaun said. “The reason why it is incredibly challenging is we are talking legacy control systems. Putting tools in there and locking things down, especially when there are people that don’t understand what their equipment does, if you are using dynamic port ranges for example, how do we actually capture that? That is the challenge.”

Static Bonus
One benefit, though, is the process control environment is relatively static when it comes to software programs. Software is not constantly changing.

“I think the wonderfully beneficial advantage is the environment does not change a lot, so when we get it right, the need to continually tweak that allowed list is a lot less than it would be in a dynamic corporate environment,” Kaun said. “I think on the one hand it is very well-suited because we don’t change a lot, but it is challenging because we have some interesting legacy stuff out there.”

“I can give you a good example of how whitelisting would or would not protect a system,” Baldi said. “A common mode of attack is to replace one of your system files with a version that has malware embedded in it and when you run that utility you also enable the malware which does damage to your system. For instance they could replace the notepad system and when you run notepad you are actually enabling the malware. That kind of attack will be prevented in whitelisting because with your system whitelisted it will not allow a different version of notepad to run.”

The catch Baldi said is if the allowed software has a vulnerability embedded in it.

“If there is a Zero Day vulnerability in the existing version that you have whitelisted of notepad on your system, whitelisting will allow that version to run and the attackers can take advantage of that vulnerability,” he said. “Only the version you have whitelisted will run, but if you whitelisted a Zero Day vulnerability, whitelisting will not protect you against that.”

“That is why you need hand-in-hand antivirus and whitelisting, said Shawn Gold, global solutions leader, industrial IT solutions at Honeywell Process Solutions. “The antivirus should pick up that version of notepad that has a virus in it.”

System Speed
With the traditional security software on a system, end users often fret over adding any more software, fearing it will slow down the process.

But that often ends up not being a problem.

“That is always one the biggest concerns we have,” Gold said. “From anything we add to a process control system, where some IT folks may not be as concerned about the loading on a system, we are paranoid. We have very strict rules on how much load a system can have.”

“From a technical side we are extremely concerned about any changes in the load to our systems because it can impact performance in an upset condition when we need the most horsepower,” Baldi said. “Because of that, we have done some exhaustive testing on our largest systems and we have found some scenarios where whitelisting had a significant impact on operations because of the way the operations worked with the files system. We were able to very quickly — once we have tested them and discovered them — tune the whitelisting so it didn’t impact those areas.”

“If properly tuned and managed for your systems, it can have a negligible impact,” Gold said. “But you have to take that due care and attention.”

System Residence
For an industrial control system, whitelisting does not run at the network level, but rather on every individual node you install it on. So every PC running either a Windows or Linux operating system can have whitelisting running on it. The installation on that node protects only that node.

That means for users to get the most benefit out of whitelisting, they need to understand their system and know what is running on it.

“You should be reviewing your cyber security vulnerability and attack vectors on your system on a somewhat regular basis,” Gold said. “When it comes to whitelisting, if you install an update to your system, you will have to update your whitelist as a part of the ongoing maintenance. It depends on how frequently you upgrade your systems. If you are going to install software upgrades once a year, you should be updating your whitelisting as well.

“The conclusion is whitelisting has to be tightly integrated into your process control solutions,” Baldi said. “If it is tightly integrated it is not an issue, it is not something a casual user will go and pull a whitelist solution off the shelf put it on the system and expect it to work seamlessly, there is a definite tight integration needed there.”

That integration will enable the manufacturer to do what they do best: Make product. As a part of an integrated security package, it will also help keep systems running, which increases productivity and profitability. But whitelisting is not the Lone Ranger; it will need to work in conjunction with other programs and solutions and that will increase a defense in depth posture so attackers can’t get in and steal important information.

“White listing should never be considered a silver bullet,” Gold said. “It’s not a replacement for a customer that has other things like blacklisting/antivirus or what other tools they may have. It is something they should be considering in addition to what they currently have. It does buy them some additional benefits in addition to the added security it does provide.”

Gregory Hale is the Editor and Founder of Industrial Safety and Security Source (ISSSource.com).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 @ 12:08 PM gHale

Application Whitelisting can Toughen Up Weakest Link

By Gregory Hale
IT folks were happy at one major U.S. manufacturer a few years ago as they were installing state of the art security technology. “This is the best move for the organization to keep free and clear from any miscreant bug or viruses launched into the network,” they were saying at the time. Just as they neared the end, the crew worked over the weekend to iron out all kinks so they could have it ready first thing Monday morning.

When Monday came, the long-time process control engineering team came in and promptly turned off all the new security measures because it was too different and not the way they always did things.

Human error.

It seems a hacker element left a bunch of malware-riddled USB sticks in parking lot at Dutch chemical giant DSM. Instead of plugging the discarded drives into a workstation, which would have infected the machine, a DSM worker who found one of the devices handed it in to the IT department.

The IT workers did a quick check and found an unspecified password-stealing keylogger.

System saved.

Technologies like antivirus, firewalls and whitelisting, are vital to helping secure any manufacturing automation system, but the human factor is the key ingredient to shepherd any process to ensure continued uptime that will hike productivity and profitability. The catch is though, everyone needs to be on the same security page.

“The gray beards are saying ‘unplug it, we don’t’ need it, who cares. I have been running this plant for 30 years,’ ” said Rick Kaun, global business manager Industrial IT Solutions at Honeywell Process Solutions. “That just isn’t realistic given the business needs for data.”

Arms Around Information Flow
Information, and information flow, is more valuable than ever to organizations. Despite its importance, companies don’t really understand how to effectively manage this valuable resource. An estimated 49 percent of the worth of organizations derives from the information they own, according to the “State of Information Survey” from Symantec Corp.

When asked what would happen if their organization’s information were irrevocably lost with no chance of recovery, survey respondents said they would lose customers (49 percent), damage the brand (47 percent), decrease revenue (41 percent), increase expenses (39 percent) and suffer a tumbling stock price (20 percent).

Protecting against stolen data, information, intellectual property, business market plans, and even money is becoming more complicated and sophisticated. That is why a solid defense in depth strategy for manufacturers, including application whitelisting is more important than ever.

Complexity, or perceived complexity, of technology is an automatic turn off for users. That has been the problem in the past with whitelisting, but this technology is much too valuable to dismiss with a mere perception. Whitelisting, unlike other security programs, can actually be an application where you put it on the system and forget about it. Just maintain it when you do a security assessment.

“Whitelisting can reduce the need to patch, but it will not eliminate the need to patch. It is protecting you from certain vulnerabilities until the opportunity comes to apply the patches.”

– Mike Baldi, Honeywell Process Solutions

The goal of application whitelisting for an industrial control system is to prevent unauthorized applications from running, enforce a list of approved applications, include an administration tool that allows for adjustment to the whitelist, and monitor and report attempts to violate the policy.

“I think whitelisting further enhances the value of a skill set that has the knowledge of process control and IT,” Kaun said.

The initial pushback against whitelisting always seems to fall along the lines of complexity and restrictiveness. But in reality, a manufacturer can make the program as restrictive as it wants and building it can be as easy as following directions.

“You have to build a list, said Shawn Gold, global solutions leader, industrial IT solutions at Honeywell Process Solutions. “There are tools that come with the whitelisting that has some installation scripts, but you have to build a list of things that are allowed.”

“Basic whitelisting provides protection by creating a list of known good executables that can run on your systems,” said Mike Baldi, chief cyber security architect for Honeywell Process Solutions. “All the application whitelisting systems available provide that functionality, but there are additional features. For example you can choose to protect areas of your registry if you want. You can choose to lock down your USB devices. You can enter rules for the whitelisting to protect against certain memory type attacks. These are above and beyond the basic white listing protection. Everything you configure in the system has a risk that you may lock down some normal operation that is needed to run the system. So you have basic whitelisting that can be restrictive to a certain point or you can continue to lock down the system extremely tight with whitelisting, but you have to be very careful to understand the consequences of locking it down.”

Constant Vigilance
With a slowly recovering economy, the need to keep producing more product these days at a lower cost point is at a premium. That means any unplanned downtime could be devastating to any manufacturer’s bottom line. That is why companies need to avoid dreaded downtime and work with multiple layers of defense and constant user education.

The problem is end users tend to be the most common and hard-to-remediate weak point, and even security researchers struggle to address the problem. “You can’t patch users,” said Greg Conti, associate professor of computer science at West Point in the Georgia Tech Information Security Center and the Georgia Tech Research Institute, “Georgia Tech Emerging Cyber Threats Report for 2012.” “And there’s always a human being somewhere behind the security technology.”

One source in that study agreed with Conti, “People are always the most vulnerable part of the IT infrastructure,” he said. “We have so many security layers and defenses, from separating physical control systems from the standard business network, to DMZs, to limiting network protocols that communicate with physical systems, and securing all the primary UIs to the Internet. At the end of the day, there’s a person on the end of all that security that can make decisions that will have an impact.”

Installing application whitelisting presents an upfront learning curve for users, but it is one that can be worth the time and effort.

“Our customers are learning really quickly,” Gold said. “I think the majority expect whitelisting to be more all encompassing and reduce the level of management significantly. It will help, but you have to really be careful about it. The maturity of our customers is increasing, but I do think there are a lot of misconceptions still.”

“The hype about whitelisting is high,” Baldi said. “There has been a lot of publicity. The understanding at the technical level at how involved it is and how tightly it has be interlaced with your system isn’t there. They hear words that this wonderful technology is available and it is going to increase your security protection, but there hasn’t been a lot of activity so far in applying whitelisting so there is not a lot of practical knowledge with that.”

Human Issue
Fear of complexity is one issue, but there is another Kaun feels has a strong human factor involved.

“It is apathy,” Kaun said. “I think the big vendors last year came up with 4,000 viruses or threats, but internally we came up with about 15,000 threats out there. Your least informed employees are your single biggest threat, so you can have all the technologies in the world, but if someone is holding the door open or handing out passwords then you have a problem.”

“I read one study that said 50 or 60 percent of people on the street said they would give over their favorite password for a free chocolate bar. It’s not whether we have application whitelisting or not; whether we have intrusion detection or not; whether we have a full robust program; whether we have point solutions, it is apathy.’’

Users need a solid technology base and a good plan that everyone knows, Kaun said.

“The source of the threat is not as important as when it gets here, and some day it will in some shape or form. How equipped are we to weather that storm, that is the real risk. If you see it as you want to spend how many dollars to make sure al-Qaeda doesn’t hack us, your problem there isn’t budget, it is education and awareness.”

Who takes responsibility and what should a user do often becomes an issue at a plant. Should it be IT, or should the process engineering team take control? At the end of the day, it often becomes an all hands on deck effort.

“Manufacturers are using every tool available to them,” Gold said. “Every combination exists; from the IT group being responsible, to the IT group embedding a person within the process control group, to the process control group being totally responsible and not having anything to do with the IT group.”

“The worst situation is where no one does anything, which is more common than one would expect. Then there is the thinking that we don’t have to do much because we are locking things down with an air gap. Even when air gaps are used in combination with locking down USB ports and not allowing vendors with their laptops to connect to their system, they are missing the critical point on how to mitigate or manage a virus when a path in is eventually compromised There are various levels of preparedness.”

Patch Threat
Patch management is one more way whitelisting can help users overcome some threat issues.

“Whitelisting can reduce the need to patch, but it will not eliminate the need to patch. It is protecting you from certain vulnerabilities until the opportunity comes to apply the patches,” Baldi said. “It is a tremendous potential benefit as long as the limits of that benefit are realized. There are combinations of technologies and benefits that we call defense in depth that together can significantly reduce the need to patch. What I mean by that is they can allow you to run with known vulnerabilities in your system longer until you can schedule maintenance time to do your patches. That would be your antivirus software, your whitelisting software and a third technology called virtual patching, which is basically intrusion protection from the network out. Those three technologies together can significantly reduce your need to patch and allow you to better manage your patch cycles.”

“A lot of people in the plant environment think along the lines of you set it and forget it,” Kaun said. “Part of the value of whitelisting is it works on that premise. The flip side is when you go to change something, how do we manage that so we don’t turn the whitelisting off? The problem is if anything changes it becomes completely useless. That is the challenge when we apply patches we have to make sure the scrutiny has to be much greater so we don’t break our application whitelisting. So, a very detailed technical analysis and a more thorough change management needs to take place.”

Application whitelisting all comes down to helping eliminate human error so manufacturers can keep their system up and running during a time when sophisticated attacks are on the rise.

“It is about safe reliable expected operation,” Kaun said. “Am I concerned? I am concerned because there is more risk and the clients we serve are increasingly under pressure and hitting downtime.”

“We need to not worry about the noise and just get down to work.”

Gregory Hale is the Editor and Founder of Industrial Safety and Security Source (ISSSource.com).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 @ 01:06 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
In these days of resource challenges, productivity will be the answer on how to get manufacturers to the next level of strong profitability.

That is one of the most important topics in the business world today,” said Raj Batra, president of Siemens Industry Automation Division during his keynote address today at the 2012 Siemens Automation Summit in Washington, DC.

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Contrary to public opinion, manufacturing in the United States grew last year by 4.3 percent and should grow by 5.2 percent this year, Batra said. While that not is a huge number, it is a positive sign the economy is coming out of its deep slump and is moving forward.

One of the reasons for the growth is a concept called reshoring, where manufacturers are not farming out manufacturing to a less costly manufacturing center, but rather bringing manufacturing closer to where they will sell the product.

A few of the reasons for this are the energy costs involved in shipping the product across the globe and also the rise in wages in the manufacturing countries. Batra said.

Also because manufacturing is more strategic to enterprises, that means companies are now spending more on innovation. “Manufacturing represents 11% of U.S. GDP but accounts for 70 percent of R&D,” Batra said citing industry research.

Yet another issue confronting manufacturers is the hunt for resources. Finding oil, water, natural gas, and minerals is not as easy as it used to be, so it costs more to cull them from the earth.

“We are feeling the resource crunch,” Batra said. “There has been a 100 percent increase to bring oil wells online in the past decade. The next 20 years are going to be different.”

What is the answer? Batra said productivity.

If a company can increase its productivity, they can reap more in profitability. Areas to do that include increasing energy efficiency, increase the efficiency in municipal water operations, and increase the use of renewable energy.

Increasing productivity is something the industry has talked about for years, and it is really moving in that direction, but that is just one aspect a manufacturer can look at for future growth.

Another area for a manufacturer to understand is what the plant will look like in years to come. That is where Yiannis Dimitratos comes in.

The head of the Corporate Center of Competency in Automation & Process Control in Engineering and Operations for DuPont said during his keynote manufacturing plants will look quite a bit different in the coming years than they have in the past.

He said it is all about process operability. “That is the key to making desired products in order and on time and to defined quality in a safe, secure and environmentally acceptable way,” Dimitratos said. “The plant of the future will be a totally different place. It will be a smart plant.”

The idea of a virtual plant working within the real plant is coming closer to reality, he said.

“Virtualization can help improve the plant where you are not testing on the real plant, but instead are validating and testing before going live,” Dimitratos said.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 @ 02:04 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
A successful safety profile is all about making quality risk assessments and the new ISO machine safety standard that is making the old EN 954-1 standard obsolete does that by increasing a manufacturer’s performance level.

“The standard provides a quantitative approach to risk assessment and safety validation,” said John D’Silva, marketing manager safety at Siemens during a webinar entitled “Transitioning to ISO 13849-1: Changes Required and Helpful Tools.”

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“This makes sure that safety is not solely a matter of component reliability, but also relies on common-sense safety principles such as redundancy, diversity and fail-safe behavior. Under this standard, the risk assessment for a given safety function will yield a performance level, this helps eliminate both over- and under-engineering, a costly or risky result of EN954-1’s limitations.”

“The new standard accommodates the advances in technologies and that is the main advantage,” D’Silva said. “Further it corrects deficiencies in EN 954-1.”

ISO 13849-1 Safety of machinery: Safety-related parts of control systems (SRP/CS) provides safety requirements and guidance on the principles for the design and integration of safety for control systems, including the design of software.

It specifies characteristics that include the performance level necessary to carrying out safety functions. It applies to SRP/CS, regardless of the type of technology and energy in place whether electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, mechanical, or others and for all kinds of machinery.

The new standard addresses the dramatic changes in technology the older standard (EN 954-1) was incapable of handling, in particular, determining the safety of programmable products.

D’Silva, an integrated safety expert at Siemens, gave an outline on software-based tools that assist in achieving compliance to the standards. The tools are SISTEMA (Safety Integrity Software Tool for the Evaluation of Machine Applications) and SET (Safety Evaluation Tool).

The SISTEMA software utility provides developers and testers of safety-related machine controls with comprehensive support in the evaluation of safety via ISO 13849-1. It enables one to model the structure of the safety-related control components based upon the designated architectures, thereby permitting automated calculation of the reliability values with various levels of detail, including the Performance Level (PL). The SISTEMA program is now available.

SET for the IEC 62061 and ISO 13849-1 standards is a TÜV-tested online tool that supports the fast and reliable assessment of your machines’ safety functions. One can realize a standard-compliant report that serves as documentation as a proof of safety.

Safety is becoming even more important today than ever before and the new standard will help users move toward the main functions of safety and that is to protect workers, property and the surrounding area. In addition, there are the needs to reduce cost pressures and maintain productivity. With the push toward globalization, there is an increased need for production and one of the ways to meet that need is to lose the old way of doing things and integrate safety.

It is simple, reducing risk means systems remain running, which means a higher level of productivity and increased profitability. While that sounds simple, getting from Point A to the Point B is often fraught with challenges.

The new standard is one area that can help eliminate those challenges.

Key changes incorporated into EN ISO 13849-1 to address deficiencies in the previous standard and accommodate new technologies:
• Addresses the programmable electronic safety devices used increasingly in modern machines.
• Accommodates new technologies now commonly used in safety systems.
• Provides a quantitative approach to risk assessment and safety validation.
• PL’s quantify the required and achieved level of safety in probabilistic terms.
• Defines measures for diagnostic capability and common cause failures.
• Increases customer confidence in safety and integrity of their product.

Click on Safety Evaluation Tool or SISTEMA for more information on the tools.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 @ 03:11 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
Talking about the theory of safety and productivity working in unison is a nice lecture for a college professor to give in engineering school. It is very useful, but seeing it work in real time often seems like a pipe dream.

Not anymore. Manufacturers are truly seeing the light and understanding the two concepts are able to work together to not only ensure a safe work environment, but also bump up productivity. Three companies that truly get it gave presentations during Tuesday’s Rockwell Automation Fair 2011’s Safety Automation Forum in Chicago.

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PepsiCo, GM and L’Oreal talked about various forms of implementing a safety culture in a real life scenario.

“It is possible to go five years or so without injuries at your plant,” said Tommy Short, health and safety manager at L’Oreal during his presentation. “Yes, it is possible, but you have to believe.”

That is where the issue lies, people have to believe and buy into a true safety culture. “Safety is a lot of work and it takes a lot of energy from everybody involved,” Short said.

“I hear safety is the number one priority at our company,” said Craig Torrance, global senior manager of health, safety and well being operations at PepsiCo. “I don’t agree, I feel it should be a value. It should be something we just do.”

Short talked about three areas in the safety culture spectrum: Dependent safety culture, independent safety culture and interdependent safety culture.

Dependent is more restrictive, doing things people are told, following rules and regulations to the letter. Independent, he said, allows for personal values, and good practices and habits. Interdependent allows for a caring culture where people work well with one another; more of a true communication environment.

He showed a chart that proved the interdependent safety culture that had true worker participation had the lowest rate of safety incidents.

He talked about an employee program at L’Oreal where there was participation and a reporting system. This was not about getting other workers in trouble, but rather, ensuring there was a safe work environment. This means the culture at the company was able to change and be more active because workers were looking out for one another.

“True ownership comes from employees,” Short said. “You really need to focus on what matters and make sure everyone is actively engaged. Actively engages employees will reduce safety issues.”

Torrance agrees, but his issues were all about implementing a safety program across a truly global enterprise. With over 800 manufacturing plants located around the world, implementing any kind of plan can be very difficult to say the least.

In a decentralized, autonomous, innovative and fast-paced corporation, it is difficult to get everyone thinking on the same page.

“That environment makes it very difficult to implement any kind of standardized safety program,” Torrance said.

He said it is difficult to have people buy into anything about safety until you start buying safety related items.

“Once you start spending dollars on safety, that had a huge impact on the culture,” Torrance said. “We actually had operators say to us, ‘you are actually serious about this.’”

Torrance talked about a 10-year machine safety program he launched this year. Before he could really get it going he knew the most important factor he had to work with was getting true executive level buy in from the beginning. He then sought out the various chief executives and business heads for all the units within PepsiCo. He was able to achieve the buy in, but that endeavor took him nine months.

“Without leadership buy in, you can’t implement a global safety program,” Torrance said. After you get executive sponsorship, you also need to implement an accountability measure.

“Accountability is something that has gone away. For safety, you need accountability,” Torrance said. “We have accountability on the business side, but not as much with health and safety.”

One more important element that will help get the job done in a global initiative is keeping everything as simple as possible. “Too often,” he said, “global programs get lost in the details.”

One of the other areas he often encounters is when engineers meet and go over programs they will say to him the plan we have works well and we have a solid return on investment, but the problem we have is the safety part of the program is too costly and we can’t get a return. They will then want to unbundle safety from the package.

“If you can’t afford to do the project with safety, you can’t afford to do the project,” Torrance said.

That all goes back to the credibility issue that talks about safety as a value within the mindset of the organization.

“You need to dialogue with workers to be fluid, effortless and spontaneous,” said Mike Douglas, senior manager for safety at General Motors. “That is how you achieve all the goals you need.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 @ 02:11 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
A manufacturer can have safety and productivity at the same time.

That is not a concept of living in a fantasy world; if manufacturers are smart in using the proper technology and empower an enlightened work force, they will work and produce product in a safe environment which will mean they are producing more product devoid of unplanned shutdowns, said presenters during Tuesday’s Rockwell Automation Fair 2011’s Safety Automation Forum in Chicago.

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“There are opportunities in safety,” said Steven Eisenbrown, senior vice president of strategic development at Rockwell. “When talking about safety and productivity five to 10 years ago people thought it was mutually exclusive. Good operating companies do all things well. Safety is integrating into mindsets and cultures and that is then ingrained into operating parameters,” he said.

What companies need to do to achieve quality safety and productivity is to develop a safety culture, perform safety assessments and invest in technologies and services, Eisenbrown said. Talking about creating a safety culture is easier said than done; there are challenges.

Three solid challenges are cultural challenges, business structural challenges and procedural challenges, Eisenbrown said.

Some issue are obvious, but when you look on the procedural area, you always have to see if safety and operations are on the same page and making sure they are on the same page on common goals.

One of the ways to reach those common goals is to work with everyone on the culture and not force it down people’s throats.

“When we coach people, they realize safety is about them,” said David Sarkus, industry veteran and author of five books talking about the safety culture. “The human element is such an important element.”

The idea of police workers compared to coaching them was the theme through Sarkus’ presentation. Coaching allows for a greater give and take and more people respond favorable, versus policing or telling people what to do and not allow them to think.

Sarkus related a story a Ford Motors worker told him years ago, when the worker said Ford paid him for his arms and his eyes, but they could have his brain for free. The problem was, they never let him use it.

“Oftentimes we beat people into submission to make them work safer. If you listen to them, so many great things can happen,” Sarkus said. “We often forget about the human aspect of safety.”

That is not to say corrections should not occur because conflicts do come up in a normal workplace.

“Correcting is necessary. If you can’t get people to use the machines the way they are supposed to, we can’t get the most out of them,” Sarkus said. “We need to make sure we let our people work safely before we correct them.”

In the end, it always comes back to communication.

“Conflict resolution is vital; issues arise and they need to be resolved,” Sarkus said. “Conflict needs to be resolved for clarity. Your supervisors need to clarify their vision for safety every day.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 @ 07:11 AM gHale

By Gregory Hale
It is very easy to get caught up in the complexity of a safety system, after all, the consequences can be unthinkable. However, functional safety is all about making thinks work just as they should.

“Some functional systems are more complicated than others, but the same principal applies to whatever system you are designing,” said Derek Jones, a TUV functional safety engineer with Rockwell Automation during his presentation Monday at Rockwell Automation Fair 2011’s Safety Automation Forum in Chicago on safe design, safe assessments. “It’s about things like sustainability, performance, productivity, time to market, compliance, development costs, information, and operations and maintenance costs.”

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The thing is about safety is having plan; making sure everyone knows what the plan is and then when something happens sticking to the plan.

“If we take a machine on a plant floor that is stopped, that is one of the most dangerous things that can happen,” Jones said. “That machine is there to make money and it isn’t, so that is when things can happen because people with good intentions try to do things they are not capable of doing to get it running and then things happen.”

That is often where task analysis comes into play. Just how do workers on the plant floor going to do the task at hand safely to make the sure the machine runs safely, Jones said. They have to make sure everything runs safely and productively.

“Accidents happen because somebody does not know the implications of what is going on around them,” Jones said. “We have the technology, but we still need what is going on here upstairs (in your brain). The whole process needs to be homogeneous.”

Functional safety is also about making sure everything is in order like all the paperwork or you followed the standards correctly. Just because you have followed standards and you do have the proper technology in place, sometimes things just happen.

“It is about doing due diligence. Can we prove what we did was right. And, if not, is it something we can learn from for the next time,” Jones said.

Making sure everything and everybody is on the same page is difficult enough, but making sure the process is correct from the start is a difficult task.

“You have to have a logical concept for design,” Jones said.

“Sixty percent of all failures come from design,” said Michael Miller, TUV functional safety trainer at Rockwell Automation.

Ironing out all design errors and making sure people and technology are all on the same page all adds up to a more productive and profitable manufacturing environment.

“Safety is as much about productivity than anything else,” Jones said, “and productivity is all about safety.”

 
 
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