1 February 2002
Chairmen eye secure systems
Safety and security are crucial inside and outside a plant's physical parameters, as well as within its communication systems (see related network security story).
"Optical and wireless communication have given us a web of information that goes back and forthpast the security fence around the plant," said Vic Maggioli, ISA's SP84 chairman and president of Feltronics Corp. in Newark, Del.
But this rapid exchange of information offers a potential for problems, Maggioli said. "On the business side, you want people who need to knowusersto access information quickly, but when you do that, you also allow people in who shouldn't have access to it." He said any new SP84 standard the committee develops to address security will refer readers where to go to understand all this.
Writing a safety standard includes defining the problem and mandating corrections, Maggioli said. "But you don't want to mandate only one method of how to correct it because technologies are changing," he said. At the very least, the SP84 committee will recommend other available methods with the new standard.
Jerry Thomason, ISA's SP92 committee chairman and president of Omni Industrial Systems in Milton, Fla., said the SP92 committee hasn't addressed security issues because most of those systems are real time. "We'd probably know about it if anyone tried to defeat a toxic monitoring system," he said. "But we'll start seeing an increase on monitoring for certain toxic levels."
Yet Thomason said he had gotten requests for remote site monitoring using solar power or stand-alone devices, portable or transportable. "That was never an issue before, but with the events of 11 September, everyone's making sure the toxics never leave their property," he said. "If someone sabotages a refinery, there's a huge release of gas. Normally, plants are in close proximity, so they need to know it's leaving point A and going to point B, plus you'd need to know if it's coming from your plant."
Thomason said the committee may need to come up with a basic standard for reporting "because people are doing it different ways and at different timesreport by exception or occasional polling," he said. "I don't yet know what's best." IT