The Stuxnet saga continues to unfold as researchers investigating the virus release more information. For those not up-to-speed on the Stuxnet virus and its impact on automation and control systems, see my earlier blog posts on the subject by clicking here.
More news on the virus now comes via a report from Kim Zetter of Wired who notes that Symantec’s research into the virus indicates that “Stuxnet targets specific frequency converter drives — power supplies that are used to control the speed of a device, such as a motor. The malware intercepts commands sent to the drives from the Siemens SCADA software and replaces them with malicious commands to control the speed of a device, varying it wildly, but intermittently.”
Readers of my most recent blog post on the topic will recall what, at the time, I thought might be a not-so-tenuous connection between the virus and Iranian nuclear facilities. Symantec now claims that the Stuxnet virus doesn’t activate when it encounters any old frequency drive. Instead, it carefully “inventories a plant’s network and only springs to life if the plant has at least 33 frequency converter drives made by Fararo Paya in Teheran, Iran, or by the Finland-based Vacon.” This helps explain why some countries, such as Iran, encountered far more instances of the Stuxnet virus causing problems than other countries.
Symantec further clarifies that Stuxnet targets only frequency drives from these two companies when the drives are running at high speeds-between 807Hz and 1210Hz. Though Symantec does not definitively say that Stuxnet was designed to target nuclear facilities, it does point out that “frequency converter drives that output over 600Hz are regulated for export in the United States by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as they can be used for uranium enrichment.”
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.