BP Spill Related to Control System Cyber Incidents

In the world of industrial control systems, safety and reliability are the prime concerns when malfunction could mean real-world disaster. A number of recent catastrophes have been linked to control system cyber incidents in the transit and utility industries, including the recent BP spill in the gulf.

Newly released testimony from Michael Williams, chief electronics technician aboard Deepwater Horizon, the rig whose explosion caused the BP spill, indicates that security systems aboard the rig had been routinely bypassed to avoid false-alarm warnings. Additionally, computer systems that monitored and controlled drilling had been locking up for months before the accident, in what the crew called “blue-screen of death” outages.

Security expert Joe Weiss has been monitoring the situation closely, and has pointed out that security outages such as these have played a large role in a number of recent industrial, transit and utility-related accidents. More details on his findings can be found at his blog.