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Deep Packet Inspection Firewalls

By Phill Feltham

Protecting legacy SCADA systems from cyberattacks


Over the past decade, the power industry has embraced network technologies such as Ethernet and transmission control protocol (TCP)/Internet protocol suite (IP) for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and automation systems.

The positive response to network technologies has enabled North American electric utilities to operate cost effectively and implement more agile business practices through instant access to data throughout the organization, including the generation, transmission, and distribution systems.

Notably, utilities reaping the benefits of these new technologies are discovering the inherent dangers that result from making systems more accessible to a wider range of users. Linking systems together to provide access to other areas of the organization, as well as to partners, support experts and consultants, significantly increases the exposure of these systems to external forces such as worms, viruses, and hackers.

An effective, easy-to-use solution to improving the security of legacy control systems exists, and it does not require the complete replacement of billions of dollars of existing equipment. This solution, a technology called deep packet inspection (DPI), offers fine-grained control of SCADA network traffic. Electricity Today Magazine and Belden introduce DPI and detail how the technology can secure critical electrical grid infrastructure throughout the world.

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