ISA EXPO 2009
A new dawn
Automation sees hope for stability in energy, environment, security
By Ellen Fussell Policastro
Looking hopefully forward, not casting a worried glance backward, is crucial to making positive business decisions in today’s economy, especially as automation seeks to emerge from past challenges and into a new dawn of opportunities. Keynoters at ISA EXPO 2009 understood the importance of building that future—from calls for affordable energy to sharing methods of securing manufacturing processes.
Call for energy independence
John Hofmeister presented a problem for ISA EXPO attendees to think about—not as automation professionals, but as citizens and voters—by 2018-2020 the U.S. will enter a period of energy instability of liquid fuels. “The problem we all face in this country is 300 million people will be short on electricity and liquid fuel at the rate we’re going. It will take another decade to work our way out of what we’ve spent a decade working toward,” he said. And that is energy independence.
Hofmeister’s solution is a Federal energy reserve board, “which will only happen by a grassroots movement of Americans saying, ‘We’ve had enough,’ ” he said. Hofmeister is the founder and chief executive of Citizens for Affordable Energy and former president of Shell Oil Co.
He formed Citizens for Affordable Energy not to lobby, but to put the facts out there—to help people better understand what is at stake. “We can’t let political talk determine what the future looks like,” he said. In the last five years, this country has shelved or delayed or stopped the plans for 100 electricity pulverized coal generating facilities—to begin to replace an aging generation of 600 coal plants, Hofmeister said.
The problem lies in creating energy policy in political time. “We need to create energy policy in energy time,” he said. “Political time is defined as every two years because of who’s in office and who’s not. Problems can only be solved by citizens at the voting booth,” Hofmeister said. To do that, we need to elect a government that looks at energy security in a pragmatic, coherent, short-, medium-, and long-term manner. Hofmeister’s goal is to build a social network. “We’re not trying to promote individuals to take action themselves, but a network makes an impact,” he said. “We can control our future energy resources, infrastructure, what will be built, and when.”
Best laid plans
Planning means everything in the security world. Some of the key strategies to avoiding a catastrophe are building security into systems, planning for patch management, and disabling passwords for displaced workers before they walk out the door.
Marty Edwards makes a point during his keynote address at ISA EXPO.
As program manager at Idaho National Laboratory, DHS, control systems security program (CSSP), Marty Edwards wanted EXPO attendees to remember the importance of planning above everything else at 7 October’s keynote session.
“If I can communicate anything to you, it’s that we need to look at cyber security as design criteria when we’re setting up our systems,” he said. Attackers might not be targeting your plant, but your technology. With today’s modern connectivity, “we no longer have gates, guns, and guards,” he said. “We have multiple connections to higher level networks within business. In some cases when we go onsite, we see good perimeters of firewall technology, but we also go to sites where we see a completely flat network, where all the PLCs are on the same network as the business network. So the administrative assistant sitting in the mill manager’s office is sitting on the same network as the PLC running the packing line.”
You might not think you are connected, but at 3 a.m., the operators know how to get connectivity on the HMI. “If you don’t have systems in place, proper intrusion detection sets, they will bypass those systems and figure a way to plug it in. Operators have a lot to do at 3 a.m. when the plant is running smoothly. You should always question that statement that says, ‘I’m not connected.’ ”
Patch management was one area Edwards could not stress enough. “If you can come up with a methodology in partnership with your vendor that says, ‘When a new version comes out, this is our plan to get it patched,’ you’re off to a good start,” he said. He also stressed the importance of authentication-user privileges and information disclosure.
Attack the hacker
Jonathan Pollet, founder and principal consultant at Red Tiger Security, USA, knows how wireless technologies in the industrial controls space can be confusing to some newcomers to the wireless scene. It is difficult to know how to alleviate all the potential security threats and vulnerabilities. Pollet and his Red Tiger co-founder, Joe Cummins, hosted what they called the first live wireless hacking and defending demonstration at any conference. The premise of the demonstration was an interactive competition between the Red Team and the Blue Team.
The Red Team (bad guys) represented the attacking group and focused on cracking the security in the wireless systems, jamming them, or causing a disruption in the wireless communications. The Blue Team (good guys) represented the wireless system owners and operators who were trying to ensure the wireless system was resilient, strong, and passing industrial control systems data.
Joe Cummins, left, and Jonathan Pollet tackle a problem at the live wireless hacking and defending demonstration at ISA EXPO 2009.
When the session was over, attendees had a better idea about what to do to keep the “bad guys” at bay. “Unless you take the right precautions in setting up your wireless, it can be very vulnerable to simple attacks,” said Michael DuFalla, Bechtel Bettis, Monongahela, Penn. “I didn’t realize it was that easy.”
Protection like shampooing
Maintaining aggressive and proactive control system security over the long term will require a strong and enduring commitment of resources, clear incentives, and close collaboration among stakeholders. That was the theme of Greg Garcia’s talk at EXPO. Garcia, president of Garcia Strategies, talked about the importance of investing in the protection of the U.S. critical infrastructure.
“This is the security lifecycle,” Garcia said; “it’s like that shampoo commercial, ‘wash, rinse, and repeat.’ ” Garcia is also formerly the nation’s first presidentially appointed assistant secretary for Cyber Security and Communications for the Department of Homeland Security.
The energy sector and its controls systems are vulnerable to cyber attack. A roadmap the U.S. Department of Energy built for the sector outlines a strategic framework featuring four main goals that represent the essential pillars of an effective protective strategy: Measure and assess security posture, develop and integrate protective measures, detect intrusion and implement response strategies, and sustain security improvements.
The intent of this roadmap is to provide a strategic framework for investment and action in industry and government. It outlines specific milestones that must transpire over the next seven years and identifies the challenges and activities that we need to address.
The government can and should push industry in that direction, Garcia said. “This is a national security issue,” he said.
YAPFEST returns even louder
Students came back for more networking, music, food, and fun at this year’s YAPFEST. But their reasons were just as varied as their careers. From students just out of the classroom for a day, to truck drivers looking for a career change, to technicians just looking for more knowledge about the field they were in, there was no holding these YAPPERs back as they cruised and schmoozed at the Reliant Center on 6 October.
Shannon Kitchen, from Lamar Institute of Technology (LIT), came to ISA EXPO 2009 to see in person all the instrumentation she learns about in the classroom. “I walked around with my instructor and saw hands-on what each new thing does,” Kitchen said. “It was really cool because this morning we were looking at AC/DC motor controls. I learned about UPS systems. I walked out here and saw a UPS system and got to see it in person the same day I learned about it.”
A first-timer at YAPFEST, Brian Tyllick came to EXPO within days of being laid off, just to find out what ISA was all about; he was also hoping to find a job.
New knowledge-based event
During EXPO, ISA unveiled its plans for a new event next year: ISA Automation Week, to be held 4-7 October 2010 at the Westin Galleria Complex in Houston.
The new knowledge-based event will replace ISA EXPO, but it will continue to cater to automation and control professionals who are serious about improving job performance. Intensive educational and applications-based technical conference sessions from subject matter experts will give discrete and process automation professionals the chance to learn techniques and solutions for creating more efficient, productive, and economical manufacturing processes.
“ISA is all about knowledge. The conference focus of this event will help us deliver a top-notch technical curriculum to our attendees, and it will benefit our partners and exhibitors as well,” said ISA Automation Week Program Committee co-chair and 2009 ISA President Jerry Cockrell of Indiana State University.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ellen Fussell Policastro is a freelance writer/editor based in Raleigh, N.C. Her e-mail is email@example.com. Nicholas Sheble contributed to this report.
Senscient wins InTech Innovator’s gold award
ISA named Senscient, Inc. as the gold winner of the InTech Innovator’s Awards in October. The accolade was presented at ISA EXPO 2009 in Houston. InTech also named Eltav Wireless Monitoring, Ltd. as the silver award winner, and ILS Technology, LLC took the bronze award. The InTech Innovator’s Awards recognize companies that have made significant and unique contributions to any field in the automation profession. These contributions include, but are not limited to, the design, development, and construction of tools, equipment, technical services, instrumentation, and/or an innovative service or contribution in automation.
Gold winner Senscient was recognized for developing the first new hazardous gas sensing technology in 20 years for industrial safety applications. Using the patented Enhanced Laser Diode Spectroscopy (ELDS) technology, Senscient’s Series 1000 and Series 2000 ELDS open path gas detection systems provide the first and only open path systems for low ppm levels of both hydrocarbon and toxic gas detection.
Silver winner Eltav was honored for its wireless monitoring of valves. Eltav’s system provides an end-to-end solution for monitoring various types of valves that operate in the process plant. The system gives operators a comprehensive picture of the valves’ performance status in real time.
Bronze winner ILS Technology was recognized for its deviceWISE Device Gateway. ILS Technology is a leading provider of intelligent connectivity solutions, which include device-to-device, device-to-enterprise application, and secure remote-access solutions. “ILS Technology turns real-time device data into real-time information and events, which can be connected to enterprise applications and beyond,” said Fred C. Yentz, president and chief executive officer.
iAU2M8: Teens see automation in action
The second annual iAU2M8 event, designed for middle and high school students, attracted over 600 students from the Houston area. Students had a chance to walk through the ISA EXPO exhibit, see automation technology in action through an interactive demonstration area, and learn about career opportunities from real-world automation professionals. Sponsored by Shell, the event attracted several participating organizations and schools, including Citizens for Affordable Energy, FIRST Robotics, Houston Community College, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Lee College, the Offshore Energy Center, Texas State Technical College, and the University of Houston.
The students attended a keynote address entitled “Deadliest Innovation,” given by Greg Crouch, Embedded Systems Business Development director at National Instruments. Crouch is active in National Instrument’s academic STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) program efforts, helping to expand excitement of engineering among youth.
EXPO goers stay late
New late hours on the exhibit floor gave business people in the Houston area a chance to actually see more of what ISA EXPO was all about this year, as well as a chance “to network with people in a relaxed manner,” said Michael Hilton, the national sales manager at Precision Instrument Manifolds in Kingwood, Tex.
The hour-and-a-half event also gave attendees and exhibitors more time to test-drive equipment at exhibits and network with their peers and other industry luminaries. “I wouldn’t have been able to make the show without [the extended hours],” said James Golla of Lyondell in Houston. “I got stuck with some work that other folks usually handle, and I had to leave and come here much later than I planned.”