It is 3:00 AM on a Sunday morning and your cell phone goes off. There is a high level alarm at the Turnagain pump station and it is raining cats and dogs outside. You know it is a matter of minutes until the pump station floods.
10 years ago, you would throw on your clothes and trudge out into the rain and drive to the station to see what was wrong.
Now, you pick up your smart phone and using a secured connection, log into your SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system and learn that when the contractor left this site today, he failed to return all three pumps to “Auto” mode so only one pump is running. You click on the other two pumps and place them back into service and go back to bed.
Total loss of sleep: 10 minutes, as opposed to two hours that it would have cost you a few years ago.
Designing, implementing and maintaining secure remote access to SCADA systems has become a mainstay of our business in the Industrial and Municipal control world in recent years. There was a lot of reluctance by many entities to allow access to their processes via the Internet a few years ago. Many people flatly refused to go there, but as we have all become accustomed to turning on the lights or locking the doors at home with our smart phone, even us old timers have come to consider such things a part of everyday life.
Are there security risks or concerns? Absolutely! But when the right steps are taken, multiple levels of authentication, proper firewall installation and configuration and a few other issues are considered, a very secure remote connection can be established with nearly any facility.
For our company now, having remote access to customer SCADA systems is far more common than not having such access. This allows us to address customers’ control system problems or concerns in minutes or hours as opposed to hours or days. This dramatically increases our ability to leverage the talents of our employees and to meet the needs of our customers.