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The Advantages of an Integrated Factory Acceptance Test in an ICS Environment

July 5, 2011
When adding, modifying or upgrading a system, many critical infrastructures conduct a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT). A FAT includes a customized testing procedure for systems and is executed before the final installation at the critical facility. Because it is difficult to predict the correct operation of the safety instrumented system or consequences due to failures in some parts of the safety instrumented system, a FAT provides a valuable check of these safety issues. Similarly, since cyber security can also impact safety of critical systems if a system is compromised, it naturally makes sense to integrate cyber security with the FAT, a concept that brings extreme value and savings to an implementation process.

An Integrated Factory Acceptance Test (IFAT) is a testing activity that brings together selected components of major control system vendors and Industrial Control System (ICS) plant personnel in a single space for validation and testing of a subset of the control system network and security application environment in an ICS environment. Conducting an IFAT provides important advantages and benefits including: time savings, cost savings, improved ability to meet compliance requirements, and increased comfort level with integrated security solutions.

With the current trend of more intelligent ICSs and increased regulatory compliance, the best practice to achieving ICS and IT integration is by conducting an IFAT. A common problem that occurs in the industry is the unanticipated work associated with implementing security controls which can result in production issues. Performing an IFAT avoids costly redesign and troubleshooting during outage operations saving time and money that leads to an enhanced, sound security solution.

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