Thursday, January 20, 2022

How To Bring Plant Engineers To The Table When Cyber Issues Are Discussed?

In my career as electrical and IT engineer I have experienced that engineers are quite often not invited to discuss the measures and plans for critical infrastructure protection with IT personnel.

It is completely different compared to the world of electric power system protection - I mean the applications of protection relays. Protection engineers are (in my understanding) the most crucial engineers. They are very important for the reliable delivery of electric power. Protection engineers are likely to attend any meeting when it comes to the reliability of the power flows. Protection engineers know what to do ... software people may help to implement the "what" and the IT personnel may help to solve the communication issues ... but the crucial parts are dominated by protection engineers!

Mr. Vytautas Butrimas, a globally well known engineer involved in cyber security of control systems has briefly discussed the "Berlin wall" between IT personnel and plant engineers.  

Click HERE for the four page paper written by Mr. Butrimas.

Either of the groups involved believes that his or her group is the center of universe. There is little communication between the IT personnel and the engineers. 

There are so many semipermeable walls between, e.g., politicians, company lawyers, economists, IT experts, and plant engineers. There is usually no way that experts from any layer are allowed to talk to the experts from the other layers. In the end: Each layer feels independent of the other layers ... which leads to what we see these days ... and may be even more in the future. Have you heard of a discussion between a power protection engineer and a lawyer or even a medical doctor?

It would help medical doctors to understand the basics of electric power system reliability ... and so on. Because medical doctors (and all other people of a society) depend 100% on available power.

So in the end: (Electrical) Engineers should be honored by the society ... the problem may be that the engineers are not wearing white coats but wear safety boots, safety helmets, goggles,  protective gloves, ... a single doctor may harm a few people ... a protection engineer may harm millions of people during a blackout caused by a misconfiguration of protection equipment.

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