Risk
3/24/2011
06:11 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Are Industrial Control Systems The New Windows XP

Earlier this week a security researcher posted nearly three dozen vulnerabilities in industrial control system software to a widely read security mailing list. The move has Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems (SCADA) system operators scrambling, and the US CERT issuing warnings.

Earlier this week a security researcher posted nearly three dozen vulnerabilities in industrial control system software to a widely read security mailing list. The move has Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems (SCADA) system operators scrambling, and the US CERT issuing warnings.The story, as covered by our Mathew J. Schwartz yesterday in his story, SCADA Attack Code Released For 35 Vulnerabilities, sums it up well:

The vulnerable systems include Siemens Tecnomatix FactoryLink 8.0.1.1473 (six vulnerabilities, though one is DOS-only), Iconics Genesis32 and Genesis64 10.51 (13 vulnerabilities), 7-Technologies IGSS -- Interactive Graphical SCADA System -- 9.00.00.11059 (8 vulnerabilities), and DATAC RealWin 2.1 (8 vulnerabilities). US-CERT's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team released four related security bulletins.

Most of the detailed vulnerabilities involve buffer overflows and other threats which, according to experts cited by Wired News, pose little danger except the threat of a system crash. But there are at least two exceptions: The Siemens software can also be made to download a file, raising the possibility of a remote code execution attack. In addition, the IGSS software is vulnerable to arbitrary file execution.

The security of these industrial systems - which help to manage chemical, manufacturing, energy, and distribution networks - is critical. That goes without saying, and many have been decrying the security of SCADA systems for years. Researchers I've interviewed in recent months have said that not only are the SCADA systems themselves inherently full of flaws (and who could argue after this week's vulnerability dump?), but that operators also fail to keep these systems adequately segmented from the Internet, enforce encrypted access, or even use strong authentication.

Stuxnet, especially, highlighted the dangers of such complacency.

The current sad state of affairs with SCADA security reminds me the pre-Windows XP Service Pack 2 days - when dozens of operating system vulnerabilities and worms hammered the operating system. The inherently insecure operating system required one of the most aggressive security overhauls of any operating system before - or since - just to make the software marginally more secure.

This week's disclosure is another sign that shows SCADA developers are going to have to undergo a similar evolution if they're to be trusted. These systems are going to have to be poked, prodded, and fuzzed by these vendors. And, if they don't, expect more vulnerability dumps like the one we saw this week - and more Stuxnets. Hopefully, the worm won't be aimed at U.S. systems next time.

For my security and technology observations throughout the day, find me in Twitter @georgevhulme.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-2188
Published: 2015-02-26
The Authentication Proxy feature in Cisco IOS does not properly handle invalid AAA return codes from RADIUS and TACACS+ servers, which allows remote attackers to bypass authentication in opportunistic circumstances via a connection attempt that triggers an invalid code, as demonstrated by a connecti...

CVE-2015-0594
Published: 2015-02-26
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the help pages in Cisco Common Services, as used in Cisco Prime LAN Management Solution (LMS) and Cisco Security Manager, allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified parameters, aka Bug IDs CSCuq54654 and CSCun1...

CVE-2015-0632
Published: 2015-02-26
Race condition in the Neighbor Discovery (ND) protocol implementation in Cisco IOS and IOS XE allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service via a flood of Router Solicitation messages on the local network, aka Bug ID CSCuo67770.

CVE-2015-0651
Published: 2015-02-26
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in the web GUI in Cisco Application Networking Manager (ANM), and Device Manager (DM) on Cisco 4710 Application Control Engine (ACE) appliances, allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users, aka Bug ID CSCuo99753.

CVE-2015-0882
Published: 2015-02-26
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in zencart-ja (aka Zen Cart Japanese edition) 1.3 jp through 1.3.0.2 jp8 and 1.5 ja through 1.5.1 ja allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via a crafted parameter, related to admin/includes/init_includes/init_sanitize.php an...

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
How can security professionals better engage with their peers, both in person and online? In this Dark Reading Radio show, we will talk to leaders at some of the security industry’s professional organizations about how security pros can get more involved – with their colleagues in the same industry, with their peers in other industries, and with the IT security community as a whole.