Per CIP-007-5, all ports should be either secured or disabled. This obviously includes configuration ports. However, most substation devices do not allow the disabling of these ports nor should these ports be disabled as they serve important purposes, including being the primary configuration or emergency access port.
Instead, these ports must be secured.
Virtually all electronic devices with communication capability have configuration ports. For modern servers, baseboard management controllers that are networkable are the common configuration port technology. Older servers, routers, switches, firewalls, IED’s, RTU’s, etc. have serial privileged configuration ports, often network-enabled with terminal servers.
Configuration ports exist on almost every device used in Utility operations. Control systems and control devices have configuration ports. Virtually every PLC, RTU, and IED has a configuration port (usually a privileged serial port with command and control access to the device‘s core program and operating system functions). In remote locations, such as substations and endpoints (poles), there are found many devices that have configuration ports.
From the control room to the sub-station to the pole, these physical ports provide a special level of privileged access that can be used to:
- Change Configuration
- Upgrade Firmware or BIOS
- Build-out devices that have components (like servers)
- Perform a variety of Administrative functions
- Perform emergency repair or failure recovery when no other port is accessible