Lisa O'Leary Protecting the Nation’s Natural Gas Pipeline SCADA Infrastructure

In today’s world, the threat of cybersecurity attacks is ongoing. Every organization—whether considered “critical infrastructure” or not—must remain active, engaged and vigilant in order to help prevent attacks to their online properties. America’s natural gas utilities fuel the lives of 177 million Americans each day, and they are consistently working to make sure their systems remain safe, secure and reliable. There have been entities that have tried to breach our systems, and while this has not led to serious damage or disruption, the intentions of those responsible are unknown. It is not a question of if, but when will cyber criminals strike. We must be prepared.

Across the industry, operators use the “defense in depth” strategy to protect their control systems. This military strategy, adapted to cybersecurity defense, entails the “layering” of tools and mechanisms as appropriate to protect against, detect and mitigate compromise. This strategy begins with corporate cybersecurity governance consisting of policies, standards and guidelines designed to protect Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems.

Consisting of software and hardware for system operations, SCADA monitors critical data from sensors in specific locations. The system then sends the compiled data to a central computer for a human operator to analyze and determine if signals need to be sent out to direct field equipment and pipeline conditions. The introduction of SCADA technology and its layers of defense have increased the safety of our natural gas delivery system significantly.

The American Gas Association (AGA) and its members recognize the importance of information sharing among operators and government partners to increase awareness about vulnerabilities, prevention methods and mitigation alternatives. Throughout the month of October, AGA is participating in National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), an annual program designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives. AGA will be posting weekly blog articles about cybersecurity topics, as well as daily content on our Facebook page and Twitter handle using the #NCSAM hashtag. Make sure to let us know what you’re doing this month to recognize NCSAM.

Lisa O'Leary

About Lisa O'Leary

Lisa O'Leary is the Manager of Digital Communications for the American Gas Association. Prior to joining AGA, Lisa served as Manager of Multimedia Communications for the Senator John Heinz History Center, "the Smithsonian's home in Pittsburgh," and as a Web Producer at WPXI-TV, Channel 11 News in Pittsburgh, PA. Lisa is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in Communications.
This entry was posted in energy. Bookmark the permalink.