Rugged Router Fights Cyber Foes

Rob Spiegel

February 12, 2014

3 Min Read
Rugged Router Fights Cyber Foes

Plant managers get it -- they need cyber-security. Hackers of all sorts are targeting plants. Plant operators saw the damage a thumb drive can do when the Iran nuclear program was hacked -- centrifuges were destroyed by mere data. Problem is, securing a plant is different from securing an office. Plants can be harsh environments. They are not easily shut down for security updates.

Belden has addressed these challenges with the Eagle One, a ruggedized router that builds on the technology of Belden's existing Eagle family. It offers a combination of features to support data security in industrial automation. The router is designed to harden industrial systems against network incidents and cyber-attacks.

The Eagle One router was created with the capacity to withstand the harsh industrial environments of oil and gas, power transmission and distribution, and transportation companies that work with explosive and hazardous materials or operate in extreme temperatures from -40°C to 70°C (-40°F to 158°F). Belden says the router complies with global standards and certifications, including OSHA's hazardous location conditions, Europe's ATEX directives, and the Germanischer Lloyd classifications. The router was designed for easy integration through a firewall learning mode that reduces traditional installation risks, such as network interruptions or configuration errors.

The Eagle One comes with advanced redundancy features, including layer 2 and layer 3 functions to ensure switchover to a standby device when there's a fault or failure. The router has the ability to configure settings offline to eliminate contact with a live device. The router is also designed to reduce operating costs due to lower power input.

Belden wanted to produce a router to meet the specific needs of its customers. "We talked with customers about their use cases. We asked what they are trying to protect, and what would prompt them to deploy security," Frank Williams, senior product manager at Belden, told Design News. "What they wanted was a firewall. They recognize that in today's environment they have to create a secure perimeter."

Williams said customers were creating perimeters successfully on the business side with Cisco, but on the plant floor, they needed security that was easy to configure, easy to deploy, easy to repair, and rugged enough for harsh settings.

One feature of Belden's new router is its ability to operate in unfavorable environments. "One of the things our customers wanted was vibration specs, since routers are mounted near vibrating machinery," Williams told us. "They're also looking for certifications for hazardous environments. Your standard off-the-shelf routers from Cisco don't have those types of certifications. Those certifications are needed, or plant operators can't put the router on the plant floor."

As well as protecting against hackers, the router is designed to protect against accidental network intrusions. "We've seen data that suggests that 80% of downtime is not from malware, but from accidental miscues and people doing things like plugging in a device that overloads the PLC. Operators may change a device and not realize the repercussions on the other side of the plant. These are normal accidental things that cause the network to go down," said Williams. "A firewall will protect against that as well. It's not so much to fight the hacktivists, but to keep things working."

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About the Author(s)

Rob Spiegel

Rob Spiegel serves as a senior editor for Design News. He started with Design News in 2002 as a freelancer and hired on full-time in 2011. He covers automation, manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, AI, and more.

Prior to Design News, he worked as a senior editor for Electronic News and Ecommerce Business. He has contributed to a wide range of industrial technology publications, including Automation World, Supply Chain Management Review, and Logistics Management. He is the author of six books.

Before covering technology, Rob spent 10 years as publisher and owner of Chile Pepper Magazine, a national consumer food publication.

As well as writing for Design News, Rob also participates in IME shows, webinars, and ebooks.

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