Integrated Control and Safety is More Valuable than Ever

by , | Sep 23, 2021 | Control & Safety Systems, Cybersecurity

Todd Walden

Author and Blogger

There can be little doubt that COVID-19 has significantly changed the way we all work, and a key example of that change is a massive increase in remote connectivity across industries. In a recent Control Design article examining how COVID has altered the manufacturing landscape, Emerson’s Sergio Diaz shared how the need for increased security has contributed to a rise in demand for integrated control and safety systems (ICSS).

Remote personnel don’t often interact with the safety instrumented system (SIS), but when they do, in many cases, the changes will be performed through the basic process control system (BPCS). Sergio explains,

“This overall trend toward more remote connectivity to the BPCS means cybersecurity is more important than ever.”

While separating (or interfacing) the SIS and BPCS may at first appear to be the best solution to securing the SIS from exploits,

“Even an interfaced SIS requires proper protections.”

An ICSS provides equal or better protection while simultaneously reducing system complexity and overhead. Integrating safety and control makes it easier to keep remote interactions between the BPCS and SIS secure. In an integrated system, connections between the two systems are built-in and rely on fewer custom-engineered connection points, dramatically reducing the attack surface that could be compromised via a remote connection.

Moreover, much of the security of both the SIS and BPCS come from the layers of defense surrounding them. Sergio clarifies,

“Additional users accessing internal systems from outside the plant make it more essential than ever to ensure that layers of defense against cybersecurity intrusions are kept up to date.”

But having two separated systems often means doubling up on security layers, which in turn means doubling up on work to install, update, and maintain those essential defensive layers. This increased overhead can be a point of frustration. In today’s world

“Fewer IT and OT personnel on-site means teams have fewer resources to commit to updating systems to ensure the latest, strongest protections are in place.”

Integrated systems, however, can share a single set of defense-in-depth layers for the most common security systems. This means on-site staff have fewer systems to maintain, which typically results in better overall maintenance and more up-to-date systems—a critical consideration for ever-evolving cybersecurity.

Emerson’s DeltaV™ and DeltaV SIS integrated control and safety systems provide integrated-but-separate architecture to deliver total integration while still maintaining the separation required by IEC 61508 and 61511. The DeltaV ICSS reduces complexity by eliminating complex data mapping and cumbersome communication interfaces and provides an architecture that can rely on a single set of defense-in-depth layers for many common defense systems including antivirus, whitelisting, and firewalls.

To learn more about how ICSS is evolving in the face of more remote connectivity, you can read the original article in its entirety. Also, feel free to comment below on how the complications of COVID have changed the way your facility operates.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.