"I might not know how to operate your equipment. I might not be an expert in your field. But, I am an expert in breaking into your system's critical infrastructures."

Security experts from Invensys, Microsoft, British Columbia Institute of Technology, and the US Department of Homeland Security answer questions on cyber security during the Invensys conference.

With these words, David Saunders, director of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Cyber Security with the US Department of Homeland Security, kicked off the 2004 Invensys Process Systems User Conference last month in San Antonio.

Hackers and cyber terrorists understand, for example, Modbus protocols and how to program PLCs-not to mention the operation of other industrial equipment. Since industrial software is readily available to hackers over the Internet, control engineers and IT departments should implement all-encompassing security programs.

Despite the discussion of worst-case scenarios, not all sessions warned of gloom and doom. In fact, breakout sessions showed users in food and other industries how to maximize output, keep equipment running, and send accurate information to key decision makers. When it comes to equipment maintenance, for example, the use of appropriate software can cut unnecessary maintenance and coordinate it with planned shutdowns for cleaning.

Michael Caliel, president of Invensys Process Systems, reported that Frito-Lay Inc. intends to improve the availability and reliability of its equipment assets through the use of asset management software that tracks parts usage, machine availability and maintenance while working in conjunction with batch management software to keep production running.

For more information visit www.invensys.com.