Sunday, June 30, 2019

US Power Grids, Oil and Gas Industries, and Risk of Hacking


A report released in June, from the security firm Dragos, describes a worrisome development by a hacker group named, “Xenotime” and at least two dangerous oil and gas intrusions and ongoing reconnaissance on United States power grids.

Multiple ICS (Industrial Control Sectors) sectors now face the XENOTIME threat; this means individual verticals – such as oil and gas, manufacturing, or electric – cannot ignore threats to other ICS entities because they are not specifically targeted.

The Dragos researchers have termed this threat proliferation as the world’s most dangerous cyberthreat since an event in 2017 where Xenotime had caused a serious operational outage at a crucial site in the Middle East. 

The fact that concerns cybersecurity experts the most is that this hacking attack was a malware that chose to target the facility safety processes (SIS – safety instrumentation system).

For example, when temperatures in a reactor increase to an unsafe level, an SIS will automatically start a cooling process or immediately close a valve to prevent a safety accident. The SIS safety stems are both hardware and software that combine to protect facilities from life threatening accidents.

At this point, no one is sure who is behind Xenotime. Russia has been connected to one of the critical infrastructure attacks in the Ukraine.  That attack was viewed to be the first hacker related power grid outage.

This is a “Cause for Concern” post that was published by Dragos on June 14, 2019

“While none of the electric utility targeting events has resulted in a known, successful intrusion into victim organizations to date, the persistent attempts, and expansion in scope is cause for definite concern. XENOTIME has successfully compromised several oil and gas environments which demonstrates its ability to do so in other verticals. Specifically, XENOTIME remains one of only four threats (along with ELECTRUM, Sandworm, and the entities responsible for Stuxnet) to execute a deliberate disruptive or destructive attack.

XENOTIME is the only known entity to specifically target safety instrumented systems (SIS) for disruptive or destructive purposes. Electric utility environments are significantly different from oil and gas operations in several aspects, but electric operations still have safety and protection equipment that could be targeted with similar tradecraft. XENOTIME expressing consistent, direct interest in electric utility operations is a cause for deep concern given this adversary’s willingness to compromise process safety – and thus integrity – to fulfill its mission.

XENOTIME’s expansion to another industry vertical is emblematic of an increasingly hostile industrial threat landscape. Most observed XENOTIME activity focuses on initial information gathering and access operations necessary for follow-on ICS intrusion operations. As seen in long-running state-sponsored intrusions into US, UK, and other electric infrastructure, entities are increasingly interested in the fundamentals of ICS operations and displaying all the hallmarks associated with information and access acquisition necessary to conduct future attacks. While Dragos sees no evidence at this time indicating that XENOTIME (or any other activity group, such as ELECTRUM or ALLANITE) is capable of executing a prolonged disruptive or destructive event on electric utility operations, observed activity strongly signals adversary interest in meeting the prerequisites for doing so.”

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Custom Sanitary Coriolis Flow Meter Makes Better Mayonnaise

Coriolis Flow Meter for Mayonnaise
A large scale producer of condiments for the restaurant industry needed a better way to control the mixture of several ingredients in the production of mayonnaise. The ingredients needed to be mixed at exact ratios to produce a consistent product. The customer wanted to automated the process to remove human error from the mixing of these blends. Products to be measured are starch, an egg blend, and the final product of mayonnaise.

All the ingredient measurements must be made by sanitary instruments because this is an FDA regulated food application. Measurements must also be maintained at relatively low system pressures. This is difficult due to the viscous nature of the product. Because both starch and mayonnaise are shear thinning materials, precise viscosity data is not available, therefore engineering observation of the process was necessary to identify the proper size Coriolis meters.




For more information, contact M.S. Jacobs by calling 800-348-0089 of visiting https://msjacobs.com.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Level Instrumentation for Steam Generation

Level Instrumentation for Steam Generation

Steam is today’s utility player in the industrial energy arena. It cleans and sterilizes, dries and concentrates, separates and evaporates. In cookery, it preserves flavor, texture, and retains nutrients. In chemistry, it fosters reactions by controlling process pressure and temperature. In biotechnology, it’s essential for growing production organisms. Steam ranges in purity from boiler grade for routine tasks, to culinary grade “Clean Steam” for food and dairy, and graduates up to super pure, pyrogen-free steam for biopharmaceutical use.

Magnetrol, a world-leading manufacturer of level and flow instrumentation, has assembled an excellent application summary for the use of level instrumentation in steam generation.


Friday, March 29, 2019

The Ashcroft Ordering Handbook

Ashcroft, Inc. manufactures a wide variety of electronic and mechanical pressure and temperature instruments are produced in this facility under the brand names of Ashcroft®, Heise®and Weksler®. Ashcroft products are recognized as best-in-class for pressure and temperature measurement, including gauges, thermometers, switches, transducers, transmitters, instrument isolators and diaphragm seals and control and calibration equipment.

The Product Ordering Handbook includes descriptions, part numbers, and specifications for all Ashcroft products.

Download the Ashcroft Ordering Handbook from the M.S. Jacobs web site here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Required Information for Sizing the Correct Thermal Mass Flow Meter for Your Application

Thermal mass flow meterThermal mass flow meters offer accurate, repeatable, and dependable measurements of liquids and gases for both industrial and environmental processes.  They are used in a multitude of applications including landfills, GHG emissions, flare gas, natural gas measurement, pollution control, petrochemical, chemical processing, measuring hydrogen gas, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, semi-conductor manufacturing, sub-metering of clean process gases, and power / utility.

When sizing a thermal mass flow meter, the following information is required in determining the correct flow meter for your application:
  1. Fluid
  2. Insertion or inline meter
  3. Minimum and maximum line pressure
  4. Minimum and maximum flow rate
  5. Minimum and maximum fluid temperature
  6. Pipe diameter, schedule and material
  7. Standard, sanitary or ultra-high purity finish
  8. Desired process connections
  9. Flow direction
  10. Available power for transmitter
  11. Transmitter output
Once these parameters are determined, a mass flow meter may be properly specified for your application. To be safe the instrument will perform safely and without problem, it is highly recommended you consult with a process instrumentation expert for assistance.

M.S. Jacobs and Associates
https://msjacobs.com
800-348-0089