Security in Hazardous Areas | The Open & Shut Case for Enhancing Security In Explosive Atmospheres

Published 27 Apr 2020

Security in Hazardous Areas

Security in Hazardous Areas

  • Author Doug Woodbridge Director at SecurEx Technology Ltd

Security in Hazardous Areas

The Open & Shut Case For Enhancing Security

In Hazardous Areas & Explosive Atmospheres

SecurEx Technology Limited is a specialist security and safety solutions supplier for use in both safe and hazardous areas in Zones 1 & 2, Zones 21 & 22 typically with CE, ATEX, IECEx and/or UL certifications including the ATEX Maglock.

The following article written by Doug Woodbridge explains how Securex are helping mitigate problems and are able to protect systems and personnel from threatening attacks in safe and potentially explosive atmospheres in the hazardous area industries.

Around the world continued unrest, terrorism, piracy and cyber attacks are prompting governments, business owners and systems managers to focus on how to best protect crucial infrastructure, assets and personnel from attack.

Threats experienced today range from simple criminal attacks, focused on extortion or the theft of goods or assets, to the extremes of destructive terrorist attacks on-shore, piracy off-shore, civil unrest and even politically motivated cyber attacks by rogue nations.

We recently heard of the major cyber attacks that brought parts of the NHS and other organisations to a standstill and we regularly hear stories of modern-day piracy, hi-jacking of vessels off the West Coast of Africa and acts of terrorist insurgency in other parts of the world. In every case the consequences of these events are dramatic, harrowing for the individuals affected and their families and very expensive and disruptive too for the organisations involved.

Many times companies face a stark choice, either to pay a ransom or to ‘sit it out’ and hope: Hope that the criminals, pirates or insurgents will eventually release their hostages and/or their hold on assets. And hope that the damage to infrastructure and lost profits will not prove too great.

It is surely only a matter of time before ‘unwanted attention’ such as described above is applied to highvalue, high-visibility critical infrastructure targets and it is against this background that SecurEx Technology operates in safety critical and highly hazardous environments where acts of this kind can have very major impacts on personnel, infrastructure and the environment.

When confronted with the requirement to install a security solution in a hazardous area many in the security industry simply do not know where to start. They do not know the statutory and regulatory requirements, understand what can actually be installed in these areas; how it must be installed or even have access to the technology and products to create the perfect solution.

SecurEx do, and guide clients every step of the way. We assist clients from site survey and system specification to product (or solution supply), installation and commissioning using both our own engineers and trained partners.

SecurEx offer a comprehensive range of high quality security and locking products supplied either as individual components or as matched building blocks of a complete bespoke customised solution that can cover both safe and hazardous areas.

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Time to Act

Prevention is always going to be cheaper and less damaging than the cure; so being pro-active with your safety and security measures now is the obvious way forward given the serious risks.

It is reassuring to know that specialist security and safety technologies are now available from companies like SecurEx Technology that can help harden infrastructure and help mitigate the risks associated with these attacks, but what are the options?

Physical Security & Personnel Safety

Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) Oil, gas and petrochemical installations infrastructure are all potentially high-risk targets. Such facilities pose some very unique protection challenges; requiring as they do specialist solutions specifically designed to operate safely in potentially explosive Ex Zones 1, 2, 21 and 22.

With the potentially severe consequences posed by a breach of security in terms of personnel, equipment and the damage to the environment, we are finding that companies in these sectors are now very receptive to advances in technology, particularly where it can help them address both safety and security issues in one move.

Physically restricting and controlling access to site and installing high security lockdown capabilities in areas where only ATEX certified systems can be used whilst still allowing safe passage for the evacuation personnel in an emergency remains the number one priority.

SecurEx offer a wide range of unique ATEX certified locking and security technologies that have been specially engineered to address this requirement.

Historically, the layers of security and personnel safety protection tended to operate wholly independently. Today the traditional distinctions between safety, security, process and business systems are becoming increasingly blurred.

In high-risk environments this has created unique challenges and led to demands for more ‘integrated solutions’ where physical security, access control, intrusion detection, personnel location awareness, safety systems, process control and business systems work together to protect and enhance the safety and security of personnel and the installation.

The Open & Shut Case for Enhancing Security In Hazardous Areas

The Open & Shut Case for Enhancing Security In Hazardous Areas

Process & Cyber Security

Cyber security for business computer networks is now well accepted as the norm, but it is amazing how few precautions are often taken to protect the equally vulnerable control systems environment.

Office networks are now often locked down, with antivirus software and firewalls implemented as the norm to protect sensitive servers. However, the due diligence applied to these networks is often still largely an afterthought for their industrial process counterparts making them vulnerable targets to malicious cyber attacks.

Many PLC and control systems vendors (including the likes of Rockwell & Siemens) have now introduced at least some cyber security measures. However only a very few notable products, such as the RTP 3000TAS fully comply with independently tested and accredited standards, such as ISASecure Embedded Device Security Assurance EDSA-330.

As such it is worth seeking these out and reviewing these products before making investment decisions. With the threat of cyber attack, destabilising a critical process could be catastrophic.

High Availability Systems (Sil 2 / Sil 3)

We are all aware of the need to select appropriate safety rated solutions to enhance functional safety.

Compliance to IEC61508 & IEC 61131, being able to comply with given Sil levels 1 – 3 and to achieve a stated high product or solution ‘availability level’ are often quoted as the minimum standards for particular tasks.

It is worth knowing that one notable certified cyber secure product can also provide independently TÜV certified Sil 3 capability in Ultra High Availability system configurations with up to quad processors (3oo4D), quad inputs (3oo4D) and triplicated control elements (3oo3D), and all this in geographically separated locations with systems availability up to 99.9999%. Such configurations make the process control layer not only super reliable and safe, but also super resilient to loss of key control nodes in a physical attack as well as being cyber secure.

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With a growing ‘threat environment’ taking a Holistic approach to safety and security is the obvious way forward for organisations that value their assets whether they are human, physical or intellectual.

Physical security, access control and intrusion detection are all measures that can not only slow down physical attacks but will act as a deterrent helping prevent an attack in the first place as ‘Soft targets’ are going to be preferred over attacking ‘hardened assets’.

Similarly hardening cyber security measures, using appropriately protected redundant technologies, networks, servers and by geographically separating control system assets where possible (to avoid single or multi-point failures in an attack or catastrophic event) will help protect assets and personnel. Such precautions will also ensure that only authorised personnel who possess an appropriate valid electronic permit to work can access critical functionality.

The conclusion is clear: Organisations working in hazardous environments have a duty of care to employees, all stakeholders and the environment. By acting proactively now, reviewing and updating existing physical and cyber security, plugging weaknesses and managing security, functionality and safety technology as part of your overall business strategy, you will undoubtedly reduce risks of attack and significantly improve the security and safety of your personnel and assets.

Further Reading


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