New Tech Designed to Protect Infrastructure Against Hackers

With reports of breaches of the nations’ critical infrastructure on the rise, Sierra Nevada Corp. (“SNC”), a systems integrator and electronic systems provider, has partnered with the City of Fort Morgan in Colorado to protect the city’s infrastructure from cyber-attacks.  The Binary Armor® SCADA protection system was integrated into the city’s electrical network, and is now fully operational at electric substations and city offices.  According to SNC’s press release, the new protection system is designed to “prevent remote, electronic infiltration of public utility systems.”  The press release further stated that a city official believes that this system will protect against unauthorized intrusion of computer networks connected to the city’s electrical system, especially with the changing trends and the emerging technology that could pose potential harms to the city’s infrastructure.

The fact that our nation’s critical infrastructure is at risk is not novel.  Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems, more commonly known as SCADA, are the computer systems that control critical infrastructure, from water distribution and electric grids all the way to nuclear power plants.  According to the press release, although SCADA systems are widely used for managing infrastructure systems, they remain vulnerable to breach.  In fact, in 2011, hackers destroyed a pump after remotely accessing the control system of a city water utility in Springfield, Illinois.  This was closely followed by an Information Age article reporting that the FBI announced that hackers accessed the SCADA systems of three American cities.

Early this month, the Department of Homeland Security reported that a destructive computer malware program called “BlackEnergy” had infected software integral to the nation’s industrial processes, including water distribution networks and electrical grids.  More recently, KTVU News reported that the FBI warned that cyber-attacks on key infrastructure will likely result if a grand jury fails to indict a police officer accused of shooting 18 year old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August.  As early as 2011, when EWeek reported on the Springfield breach, SCADA systems have been generally recognized as easy targets, either because companies are using outdated software or insecure applications.  However, the installation of a protection system that provide, as the press release reports, “customized, in-line protection” for SCADA networks, will likely reduce the risks of breach.

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic.Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

is 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

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