Protecting industrial crown jewels

How to secure PCS 7 distributed control systems from cyber-attack

OT cybersecurity is often discussed in general terms, but the criticality and complexity of OT systems can vary greatly. Distributed Control Systems (DCS) are OT systems used in continuous processing industries – examples are oil & gas, chemical industries and treatment of drinking water.  DCSs are particularly popular in complex, sometimes large-scale processing facilities where they manage multiple machines with high reliability demands. Typically, such facilities also have strict safety requirements. As a result, a security breach against such a system could have serious consequences.

The threat landscape has changed drastically over the last few years fueled by increased digitalization, hacker capabilities and geopolitical tension. Owners of critical infrastructure and industrial facilities must be aware that they could become the next victim of a targeted cyber-attack.

Some threat actors capable of carrying out such attacks, are highly advanced and well-funded nation state groups. If successful, they could bring a facility’s operations to a grinding halt. Or worse.

Other threat actors include organized criminals determined to take valuable systems hostage.

Successful cyberattacks on critical infrastructure are not only devastating for the owner but may also impact society in general.  To respond to an increasingly dangerous threat landscape, authorities are taking explicit legislative measures. The EU, for example, has implemented the Network and Information Security Directive (NIS). In 2023, it proposed the NIS2 Directive, a stricter and more comprehensive version of its predecessor which will be implemented by October 2024.

Read more about the NIS directive here (Norwegian): Hva er NIS2 direktivet og hva betyr det for min virksomhet?.

Oil and gas refinery area

Protecting PCS 7 distributed control systems against cyber-attacks

The Siemens PCS 7 is one of the most popular DCS and has been available for decades. PCS7 systems are found in numerous facilities all over the world and are also frequently deployed in newbuild projects. Due to the critical nature of the industrial processes controlled by DCS, it is imperative that they are secured against cyber-attacks. Siemens PCS 7 is no exception and today’s threat situation makes this truer than ever.

You can read more about protecting PCS7 control systems against cyberattacks in our published whitepaper:

How can PCS7 distributed control systems be protected against cyberattacks

Many of the critical services we take for granted – provision of clean drinking water, generation of electrical power, district heating to our homes and workplaces, production and refining of oil & gas products – are controlled by distributed control systems (DCS).