Controlling Critical Infrastructure Sites: An SOC Point of View

Posted in: Command & Control , Government , Security , Transportation , Utilities

By Joshua Herring on Oct 11, 2018

When we talk about critical infrastructure, there are a number of areas that may come to mind, including oil and gas pipelines, electrical grids, telecommunication networks, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and industrial processes. All of these types of facilities require protection that spans not only physical security, but also IT-centric security that protects both assets and data being transmitted from these locations to any number of agencies.

Critical to the protection of these facilities is the Security Operations Center (SOC), and security integrators, such as Unlimited Technology, that help bridge the gap between existing and new security systems, and the IT department. The goal of any critical infrastructure SOC is to provide a common operational picture of a facility and the incoming information from various sensors in an effort to alert operators to any potential threats or hazardous situations. But in order to accomplish this, many moving parts have to come together into a cohesive and comprehensive plan of action.

Vistacom works with security integrators in the critical infrastructure space to help identify the tools needed to ensure the best possible environment for security operators tasked with protecting these important locations. Through projects such as PPL Electric Utilities, Vistacom works to assimilate data access control rooms, war rooms and ancillary spaces to enable more efficient emergency response functions to protect from both natural and manmade threats. But this work isn’t done in a vacuum; some important considerations must be made before an SOC or control room can be developed to protect these important locations:

Converging Network and Physical Security

Part of the working relationship between Unlimited Technology and Vistacom is the ability for the two companies to work together to identify how physical security systems and IT systems can be integrated to protect the critical information being collected across critical infrastructure sites. The identification of the systems that must be housed on a network, coupled with the actual integration and testing for potential vulnerabilities, is a crucial part of the development of a security plan, as cybersecurity and physical security truly converge.

Quality of Design

When working together on projects, both Vistacom and Unlimited Technology must be on the same page when it comes to compliance, client needs and securing physical and cyber assets. That’s why it’s important to place a lot of emphasis on the quality of SOC design. “We have to be able to bring disparate systems together into an integrated approach, and that is done through quality design and listening to the challenges the client faces, then working together to help solve these challenges,” said Charles Von Stetten, Senior Program Manager, Unlimited Technology.

Adherence to Regulatory Standards

For many critical infrastructure sites, there are rules and procedures in place — often by local, state or federal agencies — that govern how extensive security systems must be and how they must operate. It’s important to take into consideration these regulations when designing and implementing a comprehensive security plan involving security and SOC integrators into the picture.

Critical infrastructure sites must look at control room design and the implementation of security plans holistically, bringing together systems that provide improved managerial oversight, increased response time and better decision-making. This is done through a continued dialogue with the customer, adherence to regulatory standards and by working with critical partners in the space to deliver what a client needs.

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