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Cyber Defense - Annunciators as watcher for critical process applications


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DCS/PLC and SCADA control systems, though they provide immense capability, share a common weakness. Both are subject to cyber attack from external sources. The potential impact of this vulnerability should not be dismissed. An annunciator system can be put in place that will monitor critical process elements and provide notification of abnormalities. The systems, whether hardwired or software based, are isolated, allowing them to act as a failsafe or backup to the main control and monitoring system.

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Cyber Defense - Annunciators as watcher for critical process applications

  1. 1. A P P L I C A T I O N N O T E Annunciators as a “watcher” for your most critical processes INTRODUCTION SOLUTION DCS (distributed control system)/PLC (programmable logic controller) is the basic control element of any type of industrial control system. It may be a centralized system with one or several CPUs interconnected through a communication network. DCS/PLC systems have distributed digital and analog input networks to get informa- tion from field sensors and transmitters. Processed information is fed into digital and analog output networks to operate motors, transducers and actuators. Their CPUs have custom-made preprogrammed ladder software to process information. These software-based systems are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Most of the industrial control networks (CAN, PROFI, Control Area, Ethernet and RS485) connect to the internet or other computer networks which are not fully protected from hackers and viruses. Present day industrial DCS/PLC control systems come with redun- dancy systems to eliminate shutdowns in case of DCS/PLC hardware failures. However, this does not protect your DCS/PLC system from any type of cyber attack. Without proper protection, the safety and/or operation of your plant or business are put at great risk. PROBLEM SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) is custom made PC base software that can drag required information directly from a connected DCS/PLC system to be graphically displayed on a monitor screen. The latest SCADA systems come with various types of attractive graphics displays, multi screens and event data records with touch sensitive input buttons. These systems are viewed as attractive options for space saving because the entire control panel can be incorpo- rated into a single monitor screen. ADVANTAGES 1) Generates quick audible alarms for operator attention - maintains alarm state until the problem is sorted out. 2) Annunciator system is not affected by any type of cyber attack due to its standalone and software free features. 3) Comparing sensor alarms of Annunciator and DCS/PLC systems, sensor errors in either system can be identified. 4) Easy to identify active alarms displayed in a window annun- ciator in comparison to a flood of alarm messages displayed on a SCADA screen. It is very important that operators quickly respond to critical alarms. A third-party “watcher” (not another field operator) can look after abnormalities in your process. A standalone annunciator system equipped with a set of digital inputs from field sensors and lampbox outputs in the control room will work as a failsafe for DCS/PLC/SCADA systems. These isolated hardwired annunciator (or isolated software) systems can generate unmistakable alarms and audible warnings when there is an abnormality and can ultimately save your plant from a potential disaster. ...continued on back page...
  2. 2. ADVANTAGES CONTINUED.... 5) Window annunciator systems do not require weekly system restarts. 6) Software-free individual alarm modules make Ronan Annunciator hardware the more reliable choice in comparison to DCS/PLC hardware. 7) You can expand or modify annunciator systems without affecting your process operation. Additions or modifications to DCS/PLC/SCADA alarms may require plant shutdowns/downtime. X16PDM Annunciator System Field Signal Inputs Lamp Box Display - Control Room SCADA PC-Base LCD Screen/HMI in Control Room Field Actuators, Pump, Motors, etc... Digital & Analog Outputs to Actuators Control Signal Inputs (DCS/PLC) Digital and Analog Inputs from Field Sensors Hardwired Process Layout X71 Graphic Displays DCS/PLC/SCADA Process Control System + Annunciator System + Wired Graphic Display Alarm Management accomplished through annunciator systems - critical alarms are never missed by operators RONAN ANNUNCIATOR SYNOPSIS System Software-free annunciators Ronan Explosion Proof X19 Ronan Explosion Proof X11SN Software-based w/ Remote Monitor Ronan Event-Recording X11CB Ronan SER X500F Technical Differences Relay-based single-point annunciator Software-free CPLD-based annunciator Software-based remote annunciator Sequence of events recording system X11SN Solid-state Annunciator Software-free Software-free Isolated from network Connected to internet Software-free paths Software path isolated X500F Multiplexer (MUX) X500F Sequence of Events Recorder Control Room | | (800) 327-6626 Software for remote monitoring from main network