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$8.5m SCADA project aims to thwart cyber-terrorists

01 June, 2005

A group of US organisations has begun an $8.5m project intended to reduce the vulnerability of SCADA systems to terrorist attacks. The two-year project, partly funded by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), aims to provide a better understanding of SCADA flaws, and how they could be overcome.

Since the 11 September attacks, the US Government has been worried about the security of the nation`s water supply, electricity, and oil and gas infrastructures - all of which depend on vulnerable SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems, mostly developed before security was considered a serious issue.

"Securing SCADA systems is one of the most pressing cyber-security priorities because successful attacks against the SCADA infrastructure could result in substantial economic consequences," warns Douglas Maugham, programme manager at the DHS` Science and Technology Directorate.

The group of ten research institutions, led by the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection (I3P), will help to identify SCADA vulnerabilities, as well as inter-dependencies between SCADA systems and other critical infrastructures.

The research will address problems such as insecure network designs and weaknesses in host systems. The consortium hopes to develop tools to make current SCADA systems more secure, while performing basic research to ensure that future systems are inherently more secure. The group hopes to form partnerships with industry to guide the research and to develop opportunities for technology transfer.

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