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.”

Measuring Fluctuating Temperature Water Level Using Density

SOR from Instrument Specialties

A thermal power plant needed to measure the liquid level in a water storage tank, but due to mounting restrictions and space limitations, they are unable to use traditional liquid level sensing products.


Another approach for indirectly measuring level of water in a storage tank is by using a differential pressure transmitter to measure pressure, and then calculating liquid level through calculating the density. However, the density of water changes with temperature; when temperature increases the water expands in volume and vice versa. This causes the water level to rise without varying the amount of pressure being applied to the transmitter’s sensors. If only a pressure measuring device is used, the system will lack the temperature data required for correctly adjusting the density calculations. Temperature compensation is needed to accurately determine the level of water within the process.

SOLUTION

An SOR 815DT Smart Differential Transmitter combined with an SOR 1400 Series Temperature Transmitter Assembly gave the plant personnel all the necessary information they required to calculate the density, and therefore, indirectly measure the water level. With the SOR 815DT’s compact design, it was able to be installed into confined areas where other instruments would be too large.

Both transmitters constantly measure the temperature and pressure and the process data is relayed to a digital control system. The temperature transmitter data is used to compensate the level readings accordingly. The combination of transmitters provides the digital control system with the process parameters needed for precisely calculating the density and thus, it is able to accurately determine the water level within the storage tank.

For more information regarding any level, pressure, temperature, or flow requirement, contact Instrument Specialties, Inc. by calling 407-324-7800 or visiting http://isi.group.

Instrument Specialties: Providing Services that Drive Safety, Reliability and Performance

Process Control Service and Support

With engineering, design, and support resources available in Florida and the Caribbean, Instrument Specialties delivers value-added solutions that improve operations and increase profitability for our customers in the energy, municipal water, wastewater treatment, gas & oil, chemical, mining, agricultural, food service, pharmaceutical, and aerospace industries.

Instrument Specialties offers our customers a group of services designed to provide outstanding value and cost savings throughout your equipment's life span. By integrating access to best-in-breed equipment manufacturers, decades of application experience, and state-of-the-art tools, Instrument Specialties helps customers:

  • Improve plant and personnel safety
  • Optimize asset uptime and performance 
  • Lower total cost of operation and maintenance
  • Increase equipment reliability

PARTS, REPAIRS, UPGRADES AND FIELD SERVICES

Instrument Specialties mobile service personnel and advanced diagnostic technologies, along with the unparalleled expertise of their technicians, is equipped to address virtually any process equipment service requirement, regardless of the manufacturer.

Repair and Upgrades — Instrument Specialties repairs and/or upgrades equipment, providing new life to existing process instrumentation, valves, and control systems.

Replacement Parts and Components — Using its broad network of manufacturer's service facilities, and our own local stocking centers, Instrument Specialties provides timely delivery of quality parts that keep your operations running smoothly and profitably .

Field Service Personnel — From maintenance to management, highly qualified Instrument Specialties project managers, engineers and technicians will assist you in keeping your plant running smoothly .

ENGINEERING AND TECHNICAL SERVICES

Technical Analysis — Instrument Specialties can perform system audits to identify operational issues that may be constraining output or elevating operating costs, and then recommended laser-focused solutions.

Reliability and Efficiency Services — Instrument Specialties lends their decades of hands-on experience to offer practical solutions that improve the performance, efficiency, and reliability of your process control equipment - all while lowering your total cost of ownership.

Loop Design, Integration and Engineering Support — Instrument Specialties engineers engage with our customers, providing on-site support for grassroots project planning, system design, or project management requirements.


ASSET MANAGEMENT AND OPTIMIZATION

Instrument Specialties continues to invest in its capabilities and technologies to help our customers realize more payback from their plant assets.

Equipment Life Cycle Optimization — Through a combination of on-site assessments and technology, ISI experts help customers benchmark operational performance, define key metrics, and implement precise solutions to achieve long-term operational goals.

Intelligent Product Solutions — By employing an array of sophisticated products, services, and software that collects, examines and understands data, Instrument Specialties helps customers use predictive analytics to take action and improve asset reliability and reduce downtime.

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Instrument Specialties offers a wide range of innovative training programs to help plant operators, managers, reliability specialists, engineers and maintenance staff further develop their understanding of critical equipment and processes.

Training at ISI — At our state-of-the-art facility in Sanford, Florida, highly trained instructors provide hands-on training and instruction in the principles of process control, instrumentation maintenance, control valve operation, and equipment reliability.

Customer On-site Training — Instrument Specialties will design, develop, and deliver training programs tailored specifically around the people, equipment and processes at a customer’s facility.

Instrument Specialties, Inc.
http://isi.group
407-324-7800

Electric Actuators for the Water and Wastewater Industry

Drinking water abstraction and distribution, as well as sewage disposal and purification are basic prerequisites for infrastructure development. Security of supply is crucial for modern water industry. The need for automated valves in water and wastewater treatment are abundant, and there are many applications where electric actuators assist with the solution for the most demanding problems.

Common Water Facilities Requiring Electric Actuators:
  • Sewage treatment plants
  • Water treatment plants
  • Drinking water distribution
  • Sewage disposal
  • Seawater desalination
AUMA's  broad product portfolio of multi-turn, part-turn, and linear actuators are well known and respected in the water industry worldwide due to their high corrosion protection, long service life, and low in maintenance.



Handy Hazardous Area Classification Guide

The electrical classification term "Hazardous Location" refers to areas where flammable gases, vapors, liquids, combustible dusts, ignitable fibers or flyings are present in the atmosphere in sufficient volume to cause an explosion of fire.

Electrical equipment placed in hazardous locations must be carefully selected and applied in accordance with national and international "HazLoc" (sometimes referred to as explosion-proof) standards. These standards evaluate the threat of explosion based on quantitative and qualitative criteria such as material phase, specific gas of liquid, and likelihood of exposure.

SOR, a world leading manufacturer of process control instrumentation, offers a handy quick reference page on their website. For your convenience, we are including a link below to the PDF version on the Instrument Specialties website for download.


This guide is just for reference. Consultation with a qualified applications specialist prior to the selection or installation of any hazardous area product is strongly suggested.

For more information, contact Instrument Specialties, Inc. by calling 407-324-7800 or by visiting http://isi.group

AUMA Authorized Service, Repair and Maintenance in Florida

AUMA Authorized Service
AUMA is a world–renowned manufacturer of electric actuators for the municipal water and wastewater industry. Their electric actuators operate a wide variety of quarter-turn, multi-turn and linear valves.

Instrument Specialties, Inc. is the exclusive Auma Electric Actuator Municipal Sales and Service Representative in Florida.  We look forward to being your partner for the installation, commissioning, training, maintenance, overhaul or repair of your AUMA actuators.

Aside from sales, Instrument Specialties offers a broad scope of after-sales services for AUMA actuators including, consulting, assembly, spare parts, inspection, maintenance, modernization, onsite mounting, optimization and personnel training.

Advantages of Partnering with Instrument Specialties for all your AUMA Service:
  • One partner for all AUMA service requirements.
  • Local, prompt availability.
  • OEM guaranteed spare parts.
  • Service by fully trained and AUMA qualified technicians.
  • Thorough record keeping.





Crispin Valve: Air Valves, Butterfly Valves, Check Valves, and Plug Valves


Crispin Valve manufactures air valves, butterfly valves, check valves, and plug valves primarily for the municipal water industries. Other markets where Crispin valves are used: mining, energy and chemical processing companies. 

For more information about Crispin Valve, contact:
Instrument Specialties, Inc.
407-324-7800

KROHNE SMARTPAT Process Analytics Sensors


The KROHNE SMARTPAT is a series of digital 2-wire loop powered sensors with integrated transmitter technology. Using a VP cable, any SMARTPAT sensor can be connected directly to the process control system via 4-20 mA / HART 7 interface, which provides a large advantages in both handling and costs of a measuring point. Available in pH, ORP, Conductivity, Total Suspended Solids, Oxygen, Disinfectant, and Turbidity. Additional transmitters on site are no longer necessary. All SMARTPAT sensors can be configured and calibrated offline via PACTware FDT/DTM, on site with a HART handheld, or an optional loop powered operating unit.

Instrument Specialties, Inc.
http://isi.group
407-324-7800

SUPERIOR Water Solutions Gas Chlorinators

SUPERIOR Gas Chlorinator
The SUPERIOR Gas Chlorinator is con­sidered the industry "workhorse" of gas chlorinators. The efficient design, coupled with the long lasting materials, creates reliable water disinfection systems with a safety first, user friendly design that is cost effective to install and so easy to operate and maintain. The SUPERIOR Gas Chlorinator is the optimum choice for water disinfection, whether for drink­ ing water, sewage treatment, industrial processes, food pro­cessing, cooling water, or swimming pools.

The vacuum-operated, solution feed type SUPERIOR Gas Chlorinator can be either mounted directly on a chlorine cylin­der valve, or wall mounted. Chlorine flow rate is manually adjusted. The design is such that a number of automatic flow rate control devices can be easily added. Modern mod­ular design makes it easy and cost-effective to expand or upgrade the system.

Download the complete SUPERIOR Gas Chlorinator brochure.

For more information, contact Instrument Specialties, Inc. by calling 407-324-7800 or visiting their website at http://isi.group.