Water utilities are increasingly focused on building resilience to cybersecurity threats across their networks. The human machine interface (HMI) is one of the most common routes through which hackers infiltrate SCADA systems. In the second part of our cybersecurity series, Xylem’s Steven Miller, Product Security Leader and Radhika Upadrashta, Product Security Engineer, discuss best practices for HMI secure deployment and the steps network operators can take to reduce vulnerabilities.
At Xylem we believe that protecting the critical processes that provide clean drinking water, treat wastewater, report on water quality, and measure the consumption of water, gas and electricity require a shared responsibility model – a partnership between technology developers and providers, integrators, asset owners, and all elements of the supply chain. Xylem’s responsibility is to design and build products that include security features. In turn, our customers’ role is to understand their processes’ inherent risks and take steps to operate and maintain their solutions securely.
Human machine interface (HMI) is the most vulnerable element of an IT system. HMI refers to a dashboard or screen used to control or monitor machinery, either on-site or remotely. As the primary user interface for controlling equipment or a process, the HMI is among the most targeted aspects of the industrial control system (ICS) infrastructure. Unauthorized access to the HMI can cause havoc: operators can lose the ability to control a process; the breach can lead to asset damage and destruction; and in extreme cases, the incident can result in equipment injuries or even loss of life, during maintenance.
The good news is that operators can take steps to secure the HMI and establish an approach that balances security with the functionality and responsiveness needed for efficient operation.