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9/16/2011
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John H. Sawyer
John H. Sawyer
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0-Day SCADA Exploits Released, Publicly Exposed Servers At Risk

Italian researcher releases 0-day SCADA exploits leaving companies vulnerable to exploit; Emerging Threats project releases update to help detect attacks

Luigi Auriemma made news back in March 2011 with the release of 34 zero-day (0-day) SCADA vulnerabilities. This week, he's back in the news with the release of 15 new 0-day advisories, 13 of which affect eight different SCADA products.

SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems monitor and control devices that can make physical changes in our world. Generally, they refer to systems that manage industrial, infrastructure, and facility processes -- systems where vulnerabilities could have devastating impact.

The advisories published by Luigi include short write-ups on each of the vulnerabilities, as well as proof-of-concept exploit code and examples. The affected products include those from Cogent, DAQFactory, Progea, Carel, and Rockwell, all of which fall under the general umbrella definition of SCADA.

While some of the exploits include more advanced exploits, like heap and buffer overflows, some are simple Web directory traversal flaws requiring nothing more than a Web browser to exploit. An attacker can make a request like http://SERVER/..\..\..\..\..\..\boot.ini to the vulnerable Web server and retrieve files outside of the root directory of the Web server. In this example, the attacker can download the Windows boot.ini, which in and of itself is not a big concern, but does serve as good proof of the validity of the vulnerability and shows the ease in which the vulnerability can be exploited.

So how big a concern are these vulnerabilities? Well, the obvious issue is that you don't want someone having the ability to exploit and gain unauthorized access to SCADA systems. But, in reality, how pervasive are these particular vulnerable products, and are they publicly accessible where an attacker could easily take advantage of them? Let's take a look at the Shodan search engine to get a quick guess at what those answers might be.

Starting at the top of the list of advisories on Luigi's site, I didn't have much luck finding servers using search strings based on product and company name. There were a few false positives, a few interesting telnet servers, but nothing of interest until I got to the Carel PlantVisor. There were 290 hits, and based on the server strings that identified the version (i.e., CarelDataServer 2.3.0.0, 2.2.0.0, 1.5.1.0), every single one is vulnerable. Additionally, a cursory glance at the SessionID for the Carel servers in the search results made me think it also suffers from a lack of entropy that could lead to easy session ID hijacking.

On a positive note, Justin Searle, managing partner of UtiliSec, a firm specializing in cybersecurity services for electric utilities, noted that within hours of the release of the advisories, the Emerging Threats project had developed and released IDS signatures to detect related attacks. Justin recommended that customers currently using the vulnerable products leverage the rules to supplement their current IDS in order to help detect and prevent attacks until the vendors provide proper mitigation options.

And if you're one of the admins responsible for any of those 290 vulnerable systems publicly accessible on the Internet, please learn how to firewall those systems and force users to connect through a VPN. There's no reason critical systems such as these should be exposed to the public.

John Sawyer is a Senior Security Analyst with InGuardians. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent the views and opinions of his employer. He can be reached at johnhsawyer@gmail.com and found on Twitter @johnhsawyer.

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