Emerson Exchange Plus the Latest on Stuxnet

Coming down to the end of one of those weeks where I feel like if I have to put one more thing in my brain, it might explode. Between Emerson Exchange and the Stuxnet virus, I've had trouble keeping up.

First was the fire-hose of all kinds of Emerson information at the Emerson Exchange in San Antonio. Lots of great people there, 2200+ of the Emerson faithful, plus product roadmaps, new product announcements, case studies, training sessions, etc. Not to mention food, drink and San Antonio's River Walk putting the city's best foot forward. I was there for only the first part of the festivities and still came home exhausted. For a complete rundown on all the Emerson news, go here. Also don't miss Walt's interview with John Berra, who is retiring after 41 years in process automation.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media have discovered Stuxnet. This is a decidedly mixed blessing, I think. On the one hand, for once people are actually thinking about process automation and why it's important. On the other, there's a good deal of craziness and in some cases down-right irresponsibility about the reporting on the subject.

Of course, it's the sexy "spy" aspect to the story that is garnering all the attention. It's the mystery of the thing. Who's doing it? What do they want? Those questions create a ripe medium for all kinds of conspiracy theorists, propagandists, tub-thumpers and genuine crackpots to spin their tales. (The best one I've heard is that Stuxnet is not a plot by Israel, the U.S., the Russians, the Chinese or Iran. No. it's space aliens in UFOs testing the weapons they're planning to use to take over the world.)

Okay, then. Now that we've cleared that up . . . for a good, non-hysterical and very thorough overview of what Stuxnet is and how it works done by the securitymeisters at Symantec, go here. It may not make for comforting weekend reading, but you -- or who's ever in charge of control room/IT security at your shop -- should read it anyway.

Seriously, who's ever doing this or why isn't fooling around. And it would be a mistake to think that just because the most likely scenario is that some nation-state is messing around with another nation-state, your small operation is probably immune. Yes, chances are your plant is not a target, but Stuxnet seems to be spreading like spilled paint, and an awful lot of computers that never were targets in the first place have been infected. If you ever needed motivation to look to your security, this is it.