Network security firm Fortinet Inc., has entered into a strategic alliance with non-profit research organization Stanford Research Institute (SRI) to collaborate on research into network security for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

SCADA systems are specialized computer networks and devices that work together to monitor and control key processes in the management of machines, equipment and facilities. SCADA systems are typically used in large enterprises, the industrial sector and facilities like water pumping stations, waste treatment plants, oil refineries, chemical plants and other critical infrastructure.

SCADA systems may be used to operate cooling systems required for critical machineries and to initiate emergency shutdowns of nuclear plants. A security breach of such systems could result not only in disruption of operations, financial loss and physical damage but could also pose as a risk to people.

“Security threats are dynamic and, to be effective, security defences have to be dynamic too,” said Dr. Ulf Lindqvist, SRI program director in a statement yesterday. “We look forward to working together with Fortinet to help protect our nation’s critical infrastructure.”

Lindqvist manages research and development projects in infrastructure security and leads Sri’s support for the Cyber Security R&D Centre of the United States Department of Homeland Security.

The expertise of the SRI team related to industrial security is significant and the alliance with SROI is designed to advance the technology in this important area to better protect SCADA and other critical networks,” said Pete Brant, vice-president of Americas sales for Fortinet.

Fortinet offers several products ideal for SCADA protection. Among them are the FortiGate network security platform that’s designed to simplify network management; the FortiGuard security services which offer defence-in-depth capability and “virtual patch” of vulnerable systems; and the FortiOS network security operating system which can be used for internal or external communities with varying trust levels using different firewall personalities.


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