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MISSION COMMUNICATIONS -- Newsletter
Header2
News from Mission Communications for the Water and Wastewater Professional
Issue 5, Winter 2011
CONTENTS
Mission Spotlight on SCADA Security
New Mobile Site Improves Usability
M-800 Monitors Flare Gas
Expand Options with Option Boards

Product Highlight
Wet Well Alarm Module

Wet Well Module
2nd Generation
Part#WWMG2-1009

  • Reduces installation time and complexity
  • Enables high wet well alarms even when AC has failed
  • Supports up to 3 pumps
  • Avoids direct connection to high voltage load and reliably detects pump runs with Current Sensor
  • Class  I, Div 2 circuit for hazardous environments
Reduce installation time and complexity with the Wet Well Alarm Module (WWM). This exclusive device speeds and simplifies the installation of a Mission M-110 or M-800 RTU and provides battery backup to the existing high-level float. Since the WWM is backed up by battery power from the Mission RTU, the high level status is reported during a power outage for up to 30 hours with the standard 12V 5AH battery. Roughly a year old, this 2nd generation module adds a current sensor and an additional pump run for a total of 3 pumps.

 

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Do you know when the majority of our alarm callouts occur?

 

Between 10AM & 2PM 

 

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Trade Shows 

See us at


February 5-8
New York, NY

February 7-8
Yakima, WA

February 7-8
Lansing, MI

February 13-15
Colorado Springs, CO

February 15-17
Iowa City, IA

February 28-March 2
St. George, UT

March 6-8
Chandler, AZ

March 11-13
Myrtle Beach, SC

March 14-16
 Gatlinburg, TN

March 19-22
Reno, NV

March 21-23
Charleston, WV

March 27-30
Green Bay, WI


Scheduled Webinars

Hardware, Instrumentation
and Troubleshooting

Web Portal I: Notification
and Unit Setup Options

No Webinar: Holiday Week

Special Topics - Tank
and Well, Intertie,
Solar and OPC

Survey of Features

Hardware, Instrumentation
and Troubleshooting

Web Portal I: Notification
and Unit Setup Options

Web Portal II: Supergaph,
Reporting, Volumetric Flow
and other Advanced Topics



  

  



Spotlight on SCADA Security

 

SCADA security made headlines in November of last year when a hacker gained access to a water treatment site in South Houston, Texas. The incident occurred on the heels of another suspected intrusion at an Illinois water utility. The story out of Illinois proved false; however, the South Houston breach was real. On January 11, 2012, the hacker collective known as Anonymous posted login credentials of several SCADA sites that use the same system as the site in South Houston. None of these utilities use a managed service like Mission. The hackers took advantage of a well-known security hole in traditional SCADA systems.

 

These intrusions illustrate the nature of a SCADA security threat that exploits the lowest common denominator - default passwords. No fancy code was written to compromise the systems in South Houston or Israel. The hackers simply took advantage of default passwords that were hard-coded by the hardware maker to gain access to the systems. The Mission system does not use default usernames or passwords. In addition, we incorporate a series of security measures intended to make our system less vulnerable against a wide range of attacks.

 

Security starts at the RTU. Cellular communications reduces the risk of interception at the RTU because the complex modulations and the spread spectrum nature of GSM and CDMA technology make eavesdropping and jamming difficult. Mission also encrypts the data using two algorithms at different layers within the system. Once the encrypted data reaches the cell towers, it is forwarded to Mission over VPNs. Mission adopts multiple measures to ensure that data is protected at every step along the way.

 

 

The Mission RTU is purpose-built; it functions for a specific set of tasks, understands very limit protocols, and operates without Windows or Linux and their vulnerabilities. The Mission system's unique IP addresses are whitelisted with each RTU, meaning that the unit will not accept an outside connection from an unknown device. Because the units are not on the public Internet, the hacker is unable to address the RTU much less decrypt the data. Even if the hacker had access to the unit, the RTU would not be able to handle malicious data such as viruses or trojans due to the unit's purpose-built architecture.

The Mission servers are located in a high security server facility that requires biometric scans for entry. Access is limited to a small number of Mission personnel. Once the data is delivered to our servers, it is made available to our customers via a 1024-bit SSL connection. Customer activities are logged and monitored. Repeated failed logins are blacklisted by IP address. Access from outside of North America is automatically flagged. Remote access to the servers is limited by firewall rules to a select few IP addresses and all unnecessary ports and services are disabled.

While no system is foolproof, employing best practices can reduce external threats. Mission offers three levels of user rights - user, administrator and super-administrator. It is a good idea to assign a super-administrator to maintain credentials for all of your users. The general rule holds that passwords should be changed every six months. Our system offers an automated password expiration option. For more information, please contact Mission technical support.

 

New Mobile Site Improves Usability

                                                                                     

www.123mc.mobi

 

The Mission mobile site has been updated and optimized for the growing range of mobile devices. Access the new mobile site by going to www.123mc.mobi and logging on using your existing credentials. This new site is not meant to replace our main web portal. It is meant to offer a convenient web experience for smartphone and tablet users.

 

The new mobile site offers the ability to acknowledge alarms, track runtimes, and control relays from the palm of your hand. You can access tank and well graphs and manage multiple accounts from one screen while on the go. The power of our low cost, managed SCADA is now at your fingertips. We will be adding additional features over the next few months including unit maintenance functions. Our goal is to bring as much functionality as is possible into our new mobile site while maintaining a simple user interface.

 

We have received positive feedback from mobile site users. Paul West of New Fields (Georgia) confirmed that it works on his Android and "looks nice." According to Grand Tech's (Michigan) J.C. Van Harn, "The site is a big improvement over the previous mobile site." J.C. liked the ease of use but wanted the ability to acknowledge alarms on his smartphone. We subsequently added this feature. 

 

Mark Fenech of Oak Creek Water (Arizona) was the first to discover this new feature. He noticed a flashing red alarm icon upon login. The flashing icon signified two unacknowledged alarms that he was able to acknowledge directly from his smartphone. He called Mission technical support to discuss the updated mobile site. We urged him to explore other site features such as the tank and well graph, which fits nicely on the mobile screen.

 

Access tank and well data from the palm of your hand.

 

Feedback is very useful to Mission because it allows us to continually improve our system. Adding new features and upgrading existing functionality has been and will continue to be a hallmark of our service. If you have feedback to offer regarding the new mobile site, please send an email to cadem@123mc.com.



 

M-800 Monitors Flare

Gas at Landfill

 

When Walter Mahoney of The Louis Berger Group, Inc., needed a cost-effective solution to monitor a landfill gas flare at a former solid waste disposal facility in Rhode Island, he found the perfect fit with the Mission model M-800. He needed real-time alerts to ensure that the gas flare was operating and methane gas was not migrating from the landfill. He also needed to monitor gas flow, stack temperature and the level of water in a condensate recovery tank.

  

Mission model M-800 installed on the side of the control cabinet.

 

According to Walter, "A pump is a pump, whether it is pumping liquid or air." Instead of monitoring lift station pumps, he needed to monitor a gas blower system used to extract and burn methane from the landfill gas collection system. "I like the pump status feature of the Mission system because it tells me when the blower is down and offers good value on lots of data," he said.

 

The monitoring system requires two analog inputs and one digital input. He uses a gas flowmeter with a 4-20 mA output to monitor the flow of methane from the collection system. He uses a second 4-20 mA input to monitor temperature at the flare stack where the methane is burned off. Knowledge of gas flow and stack temperature allows one to ensure the gas is being safely burnt off and is not migrating from the landfill site. Flow measurements and pump runtime data are also used to calculate the quantity of gas removed from the landfill.

 

As gas is compressed in the blower system, moisture is released into a knock-out pot where it subsequently flows to a below-grade storage tank. Two dry contact level sensors in the tank indicate "high" and "high-high" water levels. The switch contacts are connected to the M-800, allowing the Mission system to send instant alerts when the tank requires pumping.

 

A one hour drive from Walter's office, the landfill is fairly remote. Walter opted for cellular SCADA connectivity because "a leased line was not a good option and would have resulted in high construction costs due to distance from the road." Walter added, "Mission is a great low cost option that gives me the features I need." It took him approximately fours hours to install the M-800. He plans to install M-800's at another landfill gas flare site in the near future.



   

Expand your Options

with Option Boards

 

 

Did you know that Mission offers four option boards to suit a wide range of needs? Mission customers sometimes require more I/O than is included on the Mission main board. Whether you need additional digital inputs, pulse inputs, analog inputs, or analog outputs, Mission has you covered.

 

The digital expansion board adds eight digital inputs to the main board for a total of sixteen. These inputs can be configured to alarm on normally open (N/O) or normally closed (N/C) dry contacts. This board does not require end-of-line resistors and therefore does not provide the wire supervision function of the built-in digital inputs. Digital intertie is fully operational on all sixteen inputs; this allows changes in status at the RTU to trigger relay closures at other RTUs or at the same RTU. The digital expansion board is used with high level floats, phase monitors, station flood monitors and more.

 

The pulse expansion board is used for devices like rain tipping buckets and pulse flow meters. The pulses are scaled based on the unit of measurement (e.g., 10 gallons per pulse, 0.01 inches per pulse). The pulse count is stored in battery-backed memory. This makes the pulse input advantageous in low power solar situations where it accumulates pulses even while the RTU sleeps.

 

Mission RTUs check-in to send pulse data every 15 minutes for the M-110 and every 2 minutes for the M-800. Pulse frequencies of up to 60 Hz can be monitored with the pulse expansion board. Dry contact and open collector pulse sources are directly supported. Active pulse sources can be accommodated with an interposing reed relay.

 

The analog input expansion board offers four additional analog inputs bringing the total number of inputs to six including the two main board inputs. Analog inputs are used with 4-20mA or 0-5 Volts transducers that measure things such as pressure, level, chlorine, and pH.

 

Our newest option board is the analog output expansion board. These boards are useful for the remote adjustment of devices that accept variable analog inputs (e.g., chlorine dosers, variable frequency drives, and variable valve positioners). Analog intertie is currently under development. Intertie will allow the master RTU to replicate an analog value to a remote RTU.

 

Each RTU can accommodate one option board. Wiring diagrams and application notes are available in our new publication. A $5 monthly service fee applies to all but the pulse option board. For more information, contact Mission at sales@123mc.com.



"Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody." -- Mark Twain 
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