How Security Integrators Should Secure Critical Infrastructure

Four integrators explain what specialized design, installation and service needs this challenging sector requires.

How Security Integrators Should Secure Critical Infrastructure

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SECURING critical infrastructure facilities is one of the most humbling and daunting of all tasks facing our nation today. Power stations, airports, seaports, railways, oil and gas refineries, nuclear facilities and other similarly sensitive sites are faced with implementing comprehensive security measures the likes of which are not seen in other market niches.

Many security directors need help delivering these solutions, so for skilled systems integrators the critical infrastructure market can present a bounty of opportunities. The bottom line is integrators in this space need to have a winning track record and real-world results on multiple systems to succeed in this most challenging and vulnerable of sectors.

SSI spoke with four such integrators who possess deep experience in the critical infrastructure market to tap into their subject matter expertise. Weighing in on key topics pertinent to this sector are Kyle Heaton, Siemens’ business development manager for airports in the United States; Christopher Kieta, senior director of strategic sales for Securadyne Systems; Brent Franklin, president of Unlimited Technology; and Christopher Peckham, senior vice president and CTO for Kratos Public Safety & Security Solutions.

We’ll examine the attributes a security integrator needs from a knowledge perspective, as well as what technology know-how and compliance standpoints are necessary to succeed in the critical infrastructure vertical market.

Core Competencies Are Crucial
Two key attributes for integrators that Franklin points to are the need to be safety-oriented and set up to do work in heavy industrial environments. An excellent IT department is needed, he advises, as are people who can work with the customer’s IT personnel. Because many end users now require separate networks for security devices, the ability to set up and maintain the customer’s IT infrastructure is also a strong plus.

IP networks and accompanying edge devices continue to present a mounting cybersecurity vulnerability for critical infrastructure end users.

“CIOs are looking at ways to protect those extra devices and sensors,” Heaton says. “Obviously, not only external, but also internal threats are increasing as are more capabilities to cause havoc on an IP network. There’s a critical need to prevent those devices from being hacked or disgruntled employees committing corporate espionage.”

You’ve got companies that strictly look at edge devices, but they’re not the integrators. End users have got to work with them and their integrator and IT department to help harden networks and employ encryption, and help solve the directives of their CIO or security director.

This all figures into the total solution, he says, and the integrator and a cybersecurity expert would work in unison along with the end user’s IT group to protect them against data breaches.

“You’ve got companies that strictly look at edge devices, but they’re not the integrators. End users have got to work with them and their integrator and IT department to help harden networks and employ encryption, and help solve the directives of their CIO or security director.”

Heaton emphasizes three factors that impact the customer most and an integrator’s ability to successfully meet their requirements: using their budget dollars effectively; enhancing the customer or stakeholder experience; and making their people and mission-critical assets safe and secure.

Read More: 10 Steps Integrators Should Use to Ensure Manufacturers’ Products Are Cyber Secure

The common denominator for most all critical infrastructure sites, Heaton says, is they all have a large command and control center environment. It is the nerve center of a facility or campus where an integrated solution can be managed by the end user.

If you want to succeed in the critical infrastructure market, Kieta contends that integrators must understand the end user’s unique security needs and requirements. “Most people think that being able to define the market is enough, but that’s just not true anymore,” he says.

Educating end users on the capabilities available to them is part of what a trusted integration partner does. But keep in mind, Kieta says, that today’s security consumer is increasingly more educated and experienced with technology than ever before. In a highly regulated sector such as utilities, many times the requirements are spelled out for them. Consequently, today’s integrator needs to possess a firm grasp of industry regulations that are driving customer demand for the installation and maintenance of these systems.

For example, consider the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security (MARSEC) Levels requirements. Most technicians and installers have to use a Transportation Worker Identity Credential (TWIC) in order to be able to perform work on sites that are connected to a waterway. Additional training is required for safety and it is stressed at most all petrochemical facilities. Heaton suggests going to conferences and workshops associated with a particular market niche to gain a better understanding of the regulations in play.

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