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The Need For Cybersecurity In Hazardous Locations Industries

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Despite recent economic challenges, the demand for equipment used in hazardous locations (HazLoc) is surging. Free trade pacts, adoption of IEC standards, the creation of regional and international certification schemes, and partnerships among certification agencies have contributed to this growth. But the mass digitization and automation sweeping through the global industrial marketplace is one of the biggest drivers of change and growth in HazLoc industries.

Aside from the fact that network-connected equipment and automation help prevent serious accidents that are likely to occur in hazardous areas, they also help make some processes faster and more reliable – producing better results for the business. Industrial robots, for example, are gaining popularity in HazLoc for this very reason. Research even shows that the number of industrial robots deployed worldwide will reach 2.6 million by 2019.[1]

Safety Increasingly Depends on Cybersecurity

Utilizing robots, industrial control systems (ICS), and other connected equipment for more safe and efficient production relies on their ability to operate per the specification – meaning they respond safely and reliably to inputs, all components operate as expected, and any operational errors, hardware failures, or environmental interferences can be managed safely. In other words, these resources operate safely even if there is a malfunction. This is functional safety.

Although separate standards for functional safety exist, including parts of the ATEX Directive and IEC 61508, meeting cybersecurity standards is also an essential aspect of functional safety as these resources are network-connected and vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Experts in the field have revealed that many ICS cyber-attacks in recent years sought to violate the availability of these systems, disrupting normal industrial functions and operations – and causing severe damage in the process.[2] Nuclear and oil & gas facilities, which have hazardous environments, are common targets. That is why a cyber-attack on connected equipment is not just a risk for your digital assets, but also the surrounding environment, your physical resources, and your people.

Cybersecurity for Industrial and HazLoc Settings: How it Works

A cybersecurity product evaluation should be considered for IIoT connected devices in an industrial setting. The goal is to establish a level of confidence in the security features of the IIoT device through an established and reliable quality assurance process.

A cybersecurity evaluation parallels functional safety testing using specific security frameworks and the IEC 62443 series of standards – which address the issue of security for industrial automation and control systems – and other applicable standards. The evaluation process first identifies and assesses applicable risks and the necessary Safety Integrity Levels (SILs). The effectiveness of security measures is then evaluated, taking into account any related design considerations. The overall evaluation includes assessment of the security of the product development process as well as the implementation of security measures in the product itself.

Where Third Parties Can Help

With robots and other connected equipment being used to perform dangerous tasks, testing and certifying to applicable standards is the first step to helping ensure safety and reliability. Choosing a third-party testing & certification provider with experience in emerging technologies is critical to protecting your technological assets from cyber-attacks and helping ensure they operate correctly so you can achieve your business goals.

Download our white paper to learn more about cybersecurity for ICS and HazLoc industries.

[1] World Robotics Report 2016, Retrieved from: https://ifr.org/ifr-press-releases/news/world-robotics-report-2016

[2] Uchenna P. Daniel Ani, Hongmei (Mary) He & Ashutosh Tiwari, “Review of cybersecurity issues in industrial critical infrastructure: manufacturing in perspective,” Journal of Cyber Security Technology, 2017, pgs. 52-55.