Joe reports from ISA POWID meeting

Observations from beautiful, hot Scottsdale – ISA POWID Symposium ISA POWID is the instrumentation and controls symposium for fossil and nuclear power generation. On Tuesday, ISA POWID held 6 hours of security tracks. My general observations include: - Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) had another scheduling conflict which precluded that organization from sending anyone to Scottsdale. That makes at least six major non-nuclear control system cyber security conferences that NEI has managed not to be able to attend. - Several generation utilities are removing black start capabilities so as to avoid the NERC CIP standards. CIP stands for Critical Infrastructure Protection. Shouldn’t it bother people that utilities are making the critical infrastructure less reliable in order to avoid the potential fines associated with the CIP standards? - Several utilities have excluded all fossil power plants from being critical assets. In one case, utility management gave IT the responsibility for NERC CIP compliance including plants and substations. What gives? - During the NERC CIP discussion, it was very evident there was confusion as to what was a critical asset and how big did it have to be. Jim Batug gave a great answer that focused on the effect any cyber asset would have on power plant operation. - There was a very interesting discussion by two DCS vendors of the effects of memory leakage on control system performance.  Memory leakage is a well-known issue in the IT community that is of little consequence. However, this is a big deal for control systems. At least to me, this seemed to be a new issue that I have not seen in “top 10” vulnerability lists. All in all, it was a very interesting symposium with many utilities wanting to be able to address security, but not having corporate buy-in or resources. Joe Weiss