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Treating security like safety

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

In a recent report, Honeywell explains that a decade ago when most systems and business networks remained isolated from one another security was relatively simple. The enterprise stayed connected to the Internet, but focused on keeping its network up, running and protected, while process control and safety systems remained isolated and did not have to worry about web connections.

However, over times the networks became interconnected. By the early 2000s, and especially following September 11, 2001, security professional saw that safety systems and the control network, previously unguarded, needed protection. Getting industry leaders on board with this concept has proved difficult.

Focus on safety

Honeywell highlights that the idea of safety, on the other hand, has always been of paramount importance, especially following the Union Carbide incident in India in 1984, when a methyl isocyanate gas leak caused the deaths of 3787 people and injured 558 125 more.

Since then, process safety has gained in corporate importance. Safety programs focus on design and engineering of facilities, maintenance of equipment, effective alarms, effective control points, procedures and training.

In order to contain a complex process in regards to safety, Honeywell holds that a manufacturer must design and implement management systems to:

  • Understand the risk, which involves predicting problems, including predicting the risk of possible accident/loss scenarios, establish the appropriate design and the right layers of protection to control risk to a tolerable level.
  • Control risk factors every day, which involves controlling the original design by maintaining the established layers of protection and managing changes to the design using integrated management systems.
  • Analyse actual problems and determine weaknesses in the system, which involves identifying weaknesses in design and management systems and weaknesses in risk understanding through root cause analysis of actual problems.

At a basic level, security should follow the same guidelines, therefore security can be integrated with safety.

Adapted from a report by Emma McAleavey.

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