SCADA stands for supervisory control and data acquisition, and it refers to the industrial control systems (ICS) that are used to manage infrastructure processes. Critical infrastructure is defined as the physical and virtual assets, systems, and networks that have become so important to us that their impairment or destruction would seriously damage security, economic problems, and public health and safety. Critical infrastructure facilities are essential to society, some examples are basic utilities, transportation systems, and electrical systems. Many of these facilities were built before digitalization, which exposes them to inherent risks. Successful cyberattacks could stop internal processes, lead to economic losses, and even result in the death of people. Security experts are concerned about the vulnerability of critical infrastructure and system malfunctions.
Almost all control actions in SCADA systems are carried out automatically by remote terminal units (RTUs) or programmable logic controllers (PLCs). RTUs are typically used in remote plant locations where human presence is not prevalent or where harsh environmental conditions exist. PLCs are controllers with digital inputs and outputs, as well as a communication interface. Data Acquisition begins with the PLCs or RTUs, where equipment status reports and meter readings are collected. The data is then formatted so that the control room operator can make supervisory decisions such as overriding or adjusting normal controls. The Human Machine Interface (HMI) makes a connection from the Remote Terminal Units to the supervisory system through the use of a communication infrastructure. The HMI is a device that displays recorded information to the human operator. It is used by a human operator to regulate procedures.
SCADA systems are essential for collecting and analyzing real-time data in order to properly manage equipment that handles critical and time-sensitive components or events. These SCADA systems aid in the reduction of risks associated with critical infrastructure. For example, an oil pipeline could benefit from a SCADA system. In the event of a leak, a SCADA system is used to pinpoint the source of the leak. It concludes the information, sends it to the device, which displays it on the computer screen, and alerts the operator. SCADA systems are used to monitor and control important systems such as water systems, traffic signals, basic utilities, public transit, oil pipelines, and other modern-day systems. SCADA systems are critical to use because they can have damaging effects if they are not used.
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