As of Friday May 13 2005, Australia's numerous utility providers will feel the helping hand of the government over the coming months, with a series of free, special workshops to skill SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) users on the finer points of IT security and critical infrastructure.
SCADA systems are commonly used to monitor and control processes in heavy industry, with a particularly large footprint in utilities such as electricity, gas, water, sewerage treatment as well as manufacturing.
Clearly concerned that private industry should do its bit to protect critical infrastructure, the Department of Communications IT and the Arts (DCITA) will embark on a series of roadshows to educate critical infrastructure IT managers about how to secure their systems against interference.
According to DCITA, a Community of Interest (CoI) on SCADA security, which has been established by the IT Security Expert Advisory Group (ITSEAG), will tour Australia starting "on Friday May 13 2005 in various locations around Australia including Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane".
The workshops include yet-to-be-named international and domestic speakers "who are experts in the field of SCADA security and will feature a mixture of presentations and scenario analyses", according to DCITA documents.
While the government has to date targeted high-level infrastructure operators as part of its Trusted Information Sharing Network, the current round of show-and-tell sessions firmly encourages "regional and small- to medium-size players from critical infrastructure sectors" to get with the critical infrastructure protection.
The SCADA roadshows from DCITA closely follow the release of National Guidelines for Protecting Critical Infrastructure by Attorney General Philip Ruddock after extensive consultation with the industry advisory groups which comprise the Australian Government's Trusted Information Sharing Network.
A list of critical infrastructure sites has also been circulated to intelligence, law enforcement and emergency services agencies. The list is not publicly available.
SCADA security has long been an area of concern for the government, with the notoriety that followed when, in April 2000, a disgruntled former Maroochydore (Queensland) Council contractor hacked the local SCADA system controlling sewerage treatment and emptied raw effluent into an adjoining river.
The dates of the workshops are: Perth: Friday, May 13; Melbourne: Tuesday, May 17; Sydney: Thursday, May 18; Brisbane: Friday, May 20. Venues are yet to be confirmed.