Home Business IT Security Westinghouse picks McAfee to protect nuclear control systems

An agreement between Westinghouse Electric Company and McAfee will see the former provide McAfee Enterprise Security Manager and Network Intrusion Protection to new and existing nuclear power plants.

"This agreement will help us deliver cyber security in accordance with some of our industry associations' best practices and guidelines," said David Howell, senior vice president, Westinghouse Nuclear Automation.

The Westinghouse/McAfee approach uses Waterfall's unidirectional gateways to allow the transfer of security-related information from the highest security zone with no risk of malicious traffic flowing in the reverse direction.

David Hatchell, director of energy and industrial control systems at McAfee explained that the company works with a range of control system vendors including Siemens, Emerson, Westinghouse, Rockwell, ABB, and Motorola Solutions to ensure McAfee products don't adversely affect operations.

One concern, according to Phil Craig of Pacific Northwest National Labs, is that control systems have not traditionally used secure architectures or coding techniques, and increased connectivity presents a challenge as these systems are now accessible to outside attackers.

Eric Knapp, McAfee's director of business development CIP, said whitelisting works well as a protective technology in tightly defined systems such as these. It might not be a silver bullet, but then not every threat is a werewolf, he observed.

Disclosure: The writer travelled to Las Vegas as the guest of McAfee.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.

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