Posts Tagged ‘Security’

Security: Is the HTML Web Engine secure?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Security has the highest priority

Measures such as encrypted communication based on security certificates or user authentication contribute to protecting the system.

User Authentication


This is fully based on the zenon Runtime User Management (including Active Directory). You can set user levels in the zenon RT for example, to prevent somebody who is not authorized from getting into the HMI areas.

Please note

It is important to note that the Web Engine is not a secure solution per se. It is – for instance – not recommended to ever publish web content directly to the internet. Surrounding (standard IT) security concepts have to be considered.


The Web Engine recommends and sets the IIS to use HTTPS by default – in order to do this a self-signed certificate is created.

Energy Data Management: Insecure cloud? Disadvantages and concerns

Friday, January 15th, 2016

LockAs tempting as the implementation of an EDMS solution in the cloud appears, there is some cause for concern. After last weeks’ blog articles describing EDMS solutions in the cloud, I’d briefly like to discuss these concerns.

Internet access is absolutely necessary because the service is only available online. The connection should ideally be stable, quick and synchronous.

In addition, the data is outside your own area of responsibility and some companies fear that they can no longer fully monitor it. The access to data also appears to be a weak point if it is transferred using the internet. In addition, data could get into the hands of others or be tampered with through hacker attacks.

However, if we assess these perceived weak points in detail, we understand that data in the cloud is subject to the same risk of attack as data that is stored locally in your own infrastructure. Successful hacker attacks usually are focussed on data that is in local IT infrastructure and not in the cloud. However, as a result of the centralization in datacenters, the danger of an attack is however increased.

Major cloud providers such as Microsoft are aware of this and know that their business model can only work if customers have trust in their products. For this reason, data security is of the utmost importance in Microsoft Azure. A range of integrated security measures ensure data security in the cloud. The exchange of data to the cloud is in encrypted form. Customers can select the datacenter where they want the data to be stored – there are two in Europe, for example. Microsoft provides more detailed information on the security measures for Azure at

Outlook: A short conclusion on the previous blog articles about EDMS in the cloud

The cloud model has passed the start-up phase and established itself worldwide. Most of all, it is small and medium-size companies that can benefit from innovative solutions with the help of the cloud because the cloud removes the need to heavily invest in the setup of a comprehensive infrastructure and staff. The zenon Energy Data Management System is optimally tailored to meet such demands and it is being continually developed. The next version of zenon Analyzer, 3.0, will offer a number of updates such as efficiency class analysis, dynamic normalization of measured data, weather adjustment and much more. Let yourself be amazed!


Updated code signing certificate

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Security_Certificate_InformationA signature under a document typically provides some kind of authorization. At the same time, it also ensures a way to verify that the document was signed by the person who claims to have done so, by comparing the signature with a trusted source.

Code signing of executable files allows similar verifications that can enhance security. All binary executable files delivered by COPA-DATA are digitally signed using a code-signing certificate. This allows a user to:

  • verify that the executable file originates from COPA-DATA
  • verify that the executable file has not been modified since it was published by COPA-DATA

In the file properties, Windows Explorer allows a user to check the validity of a digital signature in the tab “Digital signature”. Other tools like “Process Explorer” and “sigcheck.exe” by Sysinternals (Microsoft) allow automated verification of digital signatures on executable files. The “signtool”, which is part of the Windows SDK, also allows such checks.

Application whitelisting software can often make use of digitally signed executable files. It may be configured to only allow executing files that are issued by a trusted issuer, based on the digital code signing certificate used by the trusted issuer. An executable that has been tampered with or that is not issued by the trusted issuer, would not execute.

Microsoft has deprecated the use of SHA-1 code signing certificates and no longer supports it as of 01.01.2016. Instead, Microsoft recommends using SHA-2 (SHA-256) Code Signing certificates. Certificate Authorities, the issuers of digital certificates, have followed this notice and no longer provide SHA-1 Code Signing certificates that have a validity extending beyond 01.01.2016.

Microsoft does not fully support SHA-2 Code Signing certificates in all versions of Windows however. General support for SHA-2 Code Signing certificates is not available on older operating systems. In newer versions of Windows without all the latest updates, SHA-2 Code Signing may be available for regular binary executable files but not for kernel level drivers. For some versions, Microsoft does provide updates that supports Code Signing for kernel level drivers. Have a look at Microsoft’s Security Advisory – knowledge base article 3033929 for more information.

This is not the case for Windows XP and Windows Vista. And although these operating systems are no longer supported for current zenon versions, older zenon versions that are still maintained, may need an update of the older zenon version that runs on these operating systems.

Binary executable files issued by COPA-DATA after 12.06.2015 will therefore have a dual signature. One SHA-1 signature and an additional SHA-256 signature. Only the SHA1 signature will be displayed on older operating systems and it will still be possible to verify the file integrity by checking the SHA-1 signature. On newer operating systems, the SHA-256 signature can also be verified.

Secure Software (by Design): Is that possible? Part 3

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

The basic architecture of the software already supports the implementation of modern security concepts.

The zenon Product Family has consistently used a service-orientated architecture. These Windows services take on the communication between the individual applications or application layers as defined and documented interfaces. The person in charge of IT or security therefore always has a defined interface landscape through which zenon automation systems can be addressed from outside. Unwanted surprises are avoided. If it is a critical system, the communication ports can be deactivated or protected by using firewalls for example.

zenon SecurityAs a result of the modular construction, the user is also free to decide which components they wish to operate in a protected environment and which they would like to operate in an open environment.

For example, it is possible to open the logging server to other selected systems for analysis, while the actual productive system remains protected behind a firewall. Only the logging service exchanges data between the two systems. This way, it is possible to create “isolated sections” in the infrastructure that can be used to influence which security mechanisms remain “hidden”. Direct access to the core system is made considerably more difficult.

However, if a protected product system is attacked despite all the precautions, only the known services and ports are available to the hacker at first. Should these ports be closed down or made to crash, the actual productive system, for example the automation server, is not affected by this. Production can continue without restrictions and more importantly without data loss.

As a result of the targeted use of new technologies and a security concept that is integrated directly into the development processes and with an intelligent and flexible software architecture, IT experts are enabled to be in a position to design and implement secure systems.

Secure Software (by Design): Is that possible? Part 2

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The issue has been promoted outside the automation industry in recent years by Microsoft, especially with the development of the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) and has been accepted in adapted form by numerous other software manufacturers, including COPA-DATA. This standard defines, amongst other things, secure software structures, tools and measures such as training for developers and people in charge of QA, and the need for requirement management and the working processes behind this.

However it is not just the process of creating the software, it is also the fundamental software architecture concept, and naturally the technology that is used in the product, that decisively influence the security potential of a product such as zenon.

COPA-DATA consistently uses the latest technology on the market and offers this to its users to its full extent. Thus zenon was one of the first products on the market that is compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8. For maximum component security, only the latest technologies are applied in the product, such as Microsoft SQL Server 2012 or native support for the most recent 64-bit platforms. A positive side effect is that as a result of these technologies, our customers also benefit from the latest Microsoft patch management.

The COPA-DATA developers have pursued a consistent path of modularization in the product for 25 years. Depending on the application concept, the user decides which software module and functions they wish to allow in their environment. If an automation project should not make contact with the outside world (for example by sending emails), they can physically deactivate this module completely. However if a module is applied, all parameters can be set in zenon by the customer at any time. Regardless of whether this is the domain user or the communication port. zenon can always adapt to the local security environment.


Secure Software (by Design): Is that possible? Part 1

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

zenon SecurityThe issues of software security and vulnerabilities in software have long been seen across international media headlines. In the summer of 2010, the malware program “Stuxnet”, which was specially developed to attack industrial facilities, received attention and increased the call for heightened security precautions.

Even though the discussion is rightly increasingly focused on security-related “systems” – a combination of several components such as hardware, machines, humans and of course the software too – it is only when these elements are adapted to one another in an overall concept that a secure application of modern IT and product technologies is possible. As a manufacturer of professional software, we consider it to be one of our core tasks to contribute to the creation and further development of modern security concepts. International standards are also covering the issue of security and are making the “Security System“, which also includes modern software components, a part of their requirements set out in standards. These in turn have a significant influence on the development and quality assurance processes employed by manufacturers. Examples of these regulation requirements can be found in the following standards, among others. They are mostly still draft standards in the development stage:

  • IEC 62443
  • ISO 27019
  • IEC 62351
  • and many more

With all these regulated requirements, the question nevertheless remains:

How can zenon contribute to a secure IT / production system?

It is a fact that as a result of the increased networking of sites and production via the internet and the resultant increased risk for applications, the developers of modern software have for some time been forced to increase the consideration of security aspects in the software development process.

It is software that is widespread (off-the-shelf software) where weak points can sometimes have disastrous effects. One single security loophole can often allow several thousand installations to be targeted. With programs that are used for the control or monitoring of automation processes – such as zenon – we talk of attack scenarios that make it possible to manipulate complete production processes. For malicious employees or external attackers (for example in cases of industrial espionage or organized crime), the industrial manufacturing environment is a welcome opportunity for attacks.

For COPA-DATA and the zenon Product Family, this has meant that the issue of “security in the design and creation of software” has already been a point of intensive consideration for many years. In our research and development we are often supported by external research institutions, universities and universities of applied sciences.

One of the basic findings from our many years of experience and numerous joint projects is the fact that it is better to integrate security and quality from the start, rather than subsequently “adding it on”. Quality assurance procedures such as reviews, having another person check somebody’s work etc. should be a binding part of any production process.