Assessing the cyber-security of the IEC 60870-5-104 protocol in SCADA system

Qais Saif Qassim, Norziana Jamil, Muhammad Reza Z'aba, Wan Azlan Wan Kamarulzaman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system is the heart of almost every critical infrastructure system, whereby SCADA is generally employed in order to control and to monitor both the physical and industrial processes within these systems. It is, thus, of vital importance that any vulnerabilities of SCADA system to be identified and mitigated to prevent unplanned incidents, malicious activities, and cyber-attacks. The IEC 60870-5-104 refers to an international standard applied for tele-control in electrical engineering and power SCADA systems, which appears to be a significant principal protocol in electrical power system automation. Major industrial control vendors employ this protocol to monitor and to manage power utility devices. Nonetheless, IEC 60870-5-104 suffers from several designs and implementation weaknesses in terms of security aspects. As such, this study briefly presents this protocol and summarises its security vulnerabilities. Furthermore, it highlights the potential cyber-attacks based on the identified vulnerabilities. Additionally, the paper depicts several possible countermeasures to tighten the security of the SCADA systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-106
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Critical Infrastructures
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Energy(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

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