Attacks/Breaches
2/7/2012
01:34 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Utilities Facing Brute-Force Attack Threat

SSH attack warning from ICS-CERT just the latest in a series of high-profile vulnerabilities affecting critical infrastructure of power plants, hospitals, even prisons.

10 Massive Security Breaches
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: 10 Massive Security Breaches
Another day, another SCADA threat: ICS-CERT is now warning utilities and other critical infrastructure providers about potential brute-force attacks against control systems with SSH command-line access.

For an industry that traditionally has been cloistered and unaccustomed to cybersecurity threats to its systems, it has been a rough few months, with several security researchers exposing and poking some serious holes in the products that run in power plants, manufacturing floors, hospitals, and even prisons. Most recently, Metasploit late last month added a new exploit to the Metasploit Framework for an attack demonstrated by Digital Bond against the GE D20 PLC device. Other SCADA product exploits by the Digital Bound researchers are also in the works for Metasploit, including ones for Rockwell Automation, Schneider Modicon, and Koyo/Direct LOGIC. Last summer, researcher Dillon Beresford demonstrated a backdoor in Siemens S7-300, S7-400, and S7-1200 devices that allowed him to get inside and capture passwords and reprogram PLC logic in such a way that he could shut down the systems altogether or cause them to eventually crash.

ICS-CERT reported on Friday that many organizations have been witnessing secure shell (SSH) scans of their Internet-facing control systems, including an electric utility that told ICS-CERT it had been hit by some brute force attempts against its networks that were "unsuccessful." The attackers are probing Port 22/TCP, the default SSL listening port, to look for SSH. Once they get a response from the probe, they can execute a brute-force attack for login credentials in order to acquire remote access.

It's an attractive attack vector because many control-system devices on networks run SSH by default. ICS-CERT recommends monitoring network logs for port scans and access attempts. "Hundreds or thousands of login attempts over a relatively short time period is an indicator of a brute force attack because systems running SSH normally do not receive high volumes of login attempts," the ICS-CERT alert says. "However, indication of an attack does not necessarily mean that the organization is the actual intended target. Scans are frequently executed against a wide range of IP addresses looking for any system meeting the attacker’s criteria (in this case, systems running SSH)."

This is just the latest in a string of painfully simple hacks to which critical infrastructure providers are vulnerable. Researchers Billy Rios and Terry McCorkle during the past year have been reporting bugs they find in industrial control systems products: They've found more than 1,000, of which 98 are easily exploitable. Among the most obvious bugs they found were via human management interface (HMI) applications that were accessible via the Internet, as well as file format and ActiveX flaws.

Read the rest of this article on Dark Reading.

Heightened concern that users could inadvertently expose or leak--or purposely steal--an organization's sensitive data has spurred debate over the proper technology and training to protect the crown jewels. An Insider Threat Reality Check, a special retrospective of recent news coverage, takes a look at how organizations are handling the threat--and what users are really up to. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-1544
Published: 2014-07-23
Use-after-free vulnerability in the CERT_DestroyCertificate function in libnss3.so in Mozilla Network Security Services (NSS) 3.x, as used in Firefox before 31.0, Firefox ESR 24.x before 24.7, and Thunderbird before 24.7, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via vectors that trigger cer...

CVE-2014-1547
Published: 2014-07-23
Multiple unspecified vulnerabilities in the browser engine in Mozilla Firefox before 31.0, Firefox ESR 24.x before 24.7, and Thunderbird before 24.7 allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (memory corruption and application crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-1548
Published: 2014-07-23
Multiple unspecified vulnerabilities in the browser engine in Mozilla Firefox before 31.0 and Thunderbird before 31.0 allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (memory corruption and application crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-1549
Published: 2014-07-23
The mozilla::dom::AudioBufferSourceNodeEngine::CopyFromInputBuffer function in Mozilla Firefox before 31.0 and Thunderbird before 31.0 does not properly allocate Web Audio buffer memory, which allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (buffer overflow and applica...

CVE-2014-1550
Published: 2014-07-23
Use-after-free vulnerability in the MediaInputPort class in Mozilla Firefox before 31.0 and Thunderbird before 31.0 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (heap memory corruption) by leveraging incorrect Web Audio control-message ordering.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Sara Peters hosts a conversation on Botnets and those who fight them.