Source Protection – are parts of your program hidden?
RSLogix-5000 software provides various security features to help protect your PLC programs from unauthorized access. Whether this is a “good thing” or a “bad thing” is the subject of much debate – but regardless of our personal opinions on the subject, having any type of security system in place can present some serious challenges whenever it becomes necessary to troubleshoot a PLC-controlled system.
The most common type of security is “Source Protection” – and relies on having a small “Source Key” file available on your computer whenever you need to access the PLC program. This file is usually named “sk.dat” and is completely separate from your PLC’s regular (.ACD) program file. In simplest terms, having the Source Key file available allows you to unlock your system’s security features. Without the key your access to some parts of the PLC’s program might be limited.
In many cases a particular routine file might be “fully” protected. Files with this level of protection will have their icons appear as “grayed out” in the RSLogix-5000 controller organizer – and you won’t be able to open them at all.
In other cases a file might be protected at a “viewable” level. You’ll be able to open files with this type of protection to help you troubleshoot the system – but changes to the file’s structure will not be allowed. Files with “view only” protection will be shown with a “grayed out” background to indicate that you can’t make edits to their structure.
Add-On Instructions can also be given “Source Protection” if desired. Their icons in the organizer window will appear without a “folder” – and in this case their Parameters, Local Tags, and Logic will not be available. The “Scaling” file in the graphic on the left shows an example.
In addition to the “Source Protection” feature, another type of security is also available. The “Logix CPU Security Tool” is a completely separate software package – and allows a programmer to put a password on the ControlLogix or CompactLogix processor. Specifically, the CPU (the controller itself) will be “secured” – rather than just the individual logic files within the controller. An example of how this will appear is shown (highlighted) in the last graphic.
If your programs use any type of security features then you’ll certainly want to discuss that fact with us when planning for a Boot Camp class.