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January/February 2011

The state of critical infrastructure security

Mark Weatherford will likely not forget the week of July 12, 2010. He'd just started his job as vice president and chief security officer at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) that week. And as chance would have it, security researchers had recently announced the discovery of Stuxnet, one of the most advanced worms on record and widely believed to be targeting Iranian nuclear facilities. With NERC's mission being to ensure the reliability of the North American bulk power system, it was a leap right into the fire for Weatherford. The Windows-based worm, which contained a programmable logic controller (PLC) root kit, is the first known worm that can reprogram industrial systems, and was crafted to breach Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. SCADA systems are often used to control and monitor industrial processes, including those that help to manage power grids. Immediately, Weatherford put into place a "Malware Tiger Team" that could be leveraged to help NERC ensure that the information...

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