CERN seeking secure COTS controls, networking for collider

To control its new collider and give physicists remote access to its data, Europe’s laboratory for high-energy particle physics (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, will include commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) controls and networking in its Large Hadron Collider (LHC). CERN stands for Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire.  


Scheduled to switch on in 2007, LHC is a particle accelerator that will probe deeper into matter than ever before. It will collide beams of protons with an energy level of 14 TeV. Beams containing lead nuclei also will be accelerated, and smashed together with collision energy of 1,150 TeV. A unit of energy used in particle physics, 1 TeV is approximately the energy of motion equivalent of a flying mosquito. LHC will squeeze this energy into a space about one trillion times smaller than that mosquito.

The Internet, which CERN helped invent, also will be used to give physicists and others remote access to LHC’s capabilities and resulting data. To make this access secure, CERN has evaluated dozens of control and networking devices to achieve a “defense-in-depth” strategy that provides security at each level, including PLCs and other devices, firmware, hardware connections, network protocols, software and third-party software, as well as requiring cooperation by users, developers, and manufacturers.

Stefan Lüders, cybersecurity coordinator of control systems at CERN IT’s controls group, reported at the Process Control Systems Forum’s (PCSF) meeting earlier this year that CERN used Nessus5 and Netwox6 software to test the security resilience of 25 devices, mostly PLCs, from seven manufacturers as part of its Teststand on Control System Security (TOCSSiC) program. Though the PLCs were minimally configured and running idle, only 68% passed Netwox’s test, and only 57% passed Nessus’ test, usually due to communication failures, system crashes, and unprotected servers.

To improve security, CERN has initiated its SCADA Honeynet project to examine malformed data packets and other problematic traffic on its network, and emulate several PLCs to avoid compromising, implement network authorization mechanisms, and generally make industrial security a key ingredient of CERN’s controls and networking.

More News:

  • Patent Dispute Settled Between Rockwell Automation and Beckhoff Automation

    Rockwell Automation's linear motor business, including its recent Jacobs Automation acquisition, has developed a substantial portfolio of patents comprising over 100 issued patents on linear motor technology alone.

  • Mergers, Acquisitions Alliances and Noteworthy News in Robotics

    Iten Industries, manufacturer of advanced composite components and materials headquartered in Ashtabula, Ohio, is now offering additive manufacturing and 3D printing services.

  • U.S. Economy Looks Up for Manufacturing Industries

    The August PMI is led by the highest recorded New Orders Index since April 2004, when it registered 67.1%.

  • ASME Forum Ignites 21st-Century Engineering

    Founder and president of HMI/SCADA software developer Iconics, Russ Agrusa, said the company is focusing on how to harness big data on any device and in any class of applications, and turn it into predictive analytics in manufacturing and business intelligence.

  • New Customer Care Center for Endress+Hauser

    To help customers keep up with today's challenges, Endress+Hauser's new, state-of-the-art Customer Center is suited to greet visitors with a top-notch certified training facility with multiple classrooms and its largest yet PTU controlled by Rockwell Automation's PlantPAx system for real-world process simulation with over 120 measuring points.

  • The Rise of Aluminum in the Industrial Sector

    It is not just price that makes aluminum appealing when put alongside copper in the production of items like electrical wires and cables, though.

  • Maverick Acquires CQS Innovation Expanding Process Expertise in the Life Sciences Industry

    The acquisition expands Maverick's size and scale as a global organization with 19 office locations and 500+ engineering professionals. In addition, Chris Roerig, current president of CQS Innovation, will join Maverick as industry manager for life sciences.

  • ISA Offers Cybersecurity Certificate Program

    The program consists of passing a course on using the ANSI/ISA-62443 standards to secure industrial control systems. The course is available in the classroom or online. Students must also pass a written exam in the classroom or online.

  • Fieldbus Groups 'Unite'

    The combined power of both organizations will aim to protect the investments that end users in process automation have made in HART and Foundation fieldbus communication technologies.

  • Guess Who Just Turned 125 Years Old?

    ABB recently celebrated its 125th anniversary in Finland.

All news »

What are your comments?

Join the discussion today. Login Here.


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments