Eaton MTL

MTL Instruments Group

News

News

Secure Asset Management now available for Tofino™ users

2008 07 28
product image

MTL Instruments, a division of Cooper Crouse-Hinds, and Byres Security Inc. have released a new loadable security module (LSM) for their Tofino™ Industrial Security Solution that discovers and identifies what devices are on the network and creates the firewall rules to control the traffic flowing to them, all without risk to the industrial process. This latest LSM, known as the Tofino™ Secure Asset Management module, locates devices and generates rules simply by analyzing the traffic on the network.

This innovation is a first in the industrial security world and possibly also in the IT security market. Asset management tools in the IT world have been available for over a decade, but all are based on the principle of sending probing messages onto the network to discover what is deployed. Unfortunately for industrial users, there have been many documented cases where these discovery messages have caused SCADA and process control systems to crash. In 2005, Sandia National Laboratories released a report describing a number of serious events from use of these tools, including this example:

“a ping sweep was being performed to identify all hosts that were attached to the network, for inventory purposes, and it caused a system controlling the creation of integrated circuits in the fabrication plant to hang. The outcome was the destruction of $50K worth of wafers.”

As a result, many major energy and manufacturing companies have banned the use of IT-style asset tools on industrial networks, leaving control engineers without any techniques to determine what is actually connected to their network at any given moment.

With the release of the Tofino™ Secure Asset Management module, engineers now have a safe and secure means of locating what is on their control system networks. Designed specifically for industrial control operations in critical industries such as oil and gas, manufacturing, utilities and power generation, the Tofino™ never probes the control devices. Instead, it quietly listens for traffic and then uses special characterization techniques to determine the types of control devices on the network. When it discovers a new device, it prompts the system administrator to either accept its deductions and insert the new device into the network inventory diagram, or flag the device as a potential intruder. This way, an up-to-the-minute network map is always available to the control engineer.

Eric Byres, CTO at Byres Security Inc., notes: “Passive scanning techniques have been discussed in academic literature or released in open source projects before, but as far as we are aware, this may be the first successful commercial application of the technology in the world.”

The Secure Asset Management module doesn't rest on its laurels once it discovers everything on the network. It also guides the user through creating appropriate firewall rules to allow or block messages, based on what it has learned about the network traffic. Technical complexities such as IP addressing and TCP/UDP port numbers are managed behind the scenes, making the normally byzantine art of firewall configuration easy for the controls professional.

The new module is receiving very positive reviews from the security professionals who have seen the pre-release version. Charles Payne of Adventium Labs, a noted firewall expert who has lead numerous US Navy security projects, said "Tofino's novel context-sensitive approach ensures appropriate security policies for each protected device. The new automatic asset discovery and automatic rule generation will ensure that nothing is missed. These capabilities are critical for creating informed security policy in the industrial world."

David Beresford, Business Manager Industrial Networks for MTL Instruments added : “The Secure Asset Management LSM is another example of the flexibility, simplicity and value adding features provided by the Tofino™ Industrial Security Solution, enabling customers to reduce the complexity and management of firewall configuration in a process environment .”

“The Asset Management module is a key step in our Tofino™ Intrinsically Secure strategy”,
added Eric Byres . “Our goal is to make security understandable for control engineers, so that they can focus on keeping their process running safely and efficiently.”