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Integrate Cybersecurity into Process Hazard Analyses


Cyberattacks can infiltrate and disrupt industrial processes, causing operational disturbances, equipment damage, and even injury to employees. Incorporating cybersecurity into process hazard analyses can help you identify the vulnerabilities in your facility.

A traditional process hazard analysis (PHA), such as a hazard and operability study (HAZOP), typically includes a systematic assessment of initiating events (IEs) and their consequences. PHA teams evaluate the relationships among those events, safeguards, and consequences. However, such evaluation is generally based on unintentional causes such as human error or some unexpected failure of equipment, instrumentation, controls, or safeguards. As the chemical process industries (CPI) evolve toward greater reliance on and integration with information technology, PHA teams should also consider intentional disruption of process operations by malicious parties.

Incorporating cybersecurity in a PHA can help you identify the vulnerability of your system or facility. It can also help your facility prioritize limited resources to ensure that critical vulnerabilities are accounted for and safeguards installed in a timely and efficient manner.

Cyberattacks exploit the ever-increasing integration of modern communication with industrial process controls and operations. A typical refinery or chemical plant can have thousands of signals that are connected to a distributed control system (DCS). This arrangement presents multiple pathways for malicious parties to intervene by manipulating signals or disrupting communications. In rare but disturbing instances, these attacks can cause an incident such as a fire, explosion, and/or fatality.

This article discusses the significance of cybersecurity within industrial processes and presents a method to integrate cybersecurity analysis as part of a PHA. It demonstrates how a PHA team can assess the vulnerability of a system or facility to potential cyber threats, analyze the adequacy of safeguards, and develop necessary countermeasures to resist cyberattacks.

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