Perimeter
4/9/2012
11:01 AM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
50%
50%

How Much Money Do You Need To Lose Before You Start Monitoring?

At what point does turning a blind eye to the loss of revenue spark the inevitable conversation: 'Maybe we should be monitoring this infrastructure more closely?'

A new blog post by Brian Krebs states that the FBI has released a cyberintelligence bulletin claiming that a series of hacks perpetrated against smart-meter installations over the past several years may cost a Puerto Rican electric utility upward of $400 million annually.

According to the post, the FBI said it believes former employees of the meter manufacturer and employees of the utility were altering the meters in exchange for cash and training others to do so. "These individuals are charging $300 to $1,000 to reprogram residential meters, and about $3,000 to reprogram commercial meters," the alert states.

The FBI also said another method of attacking the meters involves placing a strong magnet on the devices, which causes it to stop measuring usage, while still providing electricity to the customer. The article also stated that the hacks described by the FBI did not work remotely and require physical access to the devices.

What I don't understand is how something like this could have gone undetected. If a house, building, or complex has a baseline of usage that suddenly changes (without an associated work order), that's what we in the SIEM world call an anomaly. Why are utilities deploying "smart meters" without accompanying smart monitors?

I'm not saying that the utilities have to use a SIEM product, per se, but they should be implementing some monitoring controls for their environments. If a company is buying the metering technology, then shouldn’t it be pushing for a way to effectively manage and monitor said technology? If an anomaly detection technology or analytical engine was laid atop the company’s usage and billing system, then I would think it would be fairly obvious to notice that something was wrong and that someone should be dispatched to investigate.

Getting down to brass tacks here, monitoring the smart infrastructure would enable the company to protect its infrastructure investment, customer base, and competitive edge, as well as its ability to generate (and collect) revenue. I mean, really, at what point does losing $400 million per year become a problem to the business?

Andrew Hay is senior analyst with 451 Research's Enterprise Security Practice (ESP) and is an author of three network security books. Follow him on Twitter: @andrewsmhay

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading, January 2015
To find and fix exploits aimed directly at your business, stop waiting for alerts and become a proactive hunter.
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7402
Published: 2014-12-17
Multiple unspecified vulnerabilities in request.c in c-icap 0.2.x allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via a crafted ICAP request.

CVE-2014-5437
Published: 2014-12-17
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in ARRIS Touchstone TG862G/CT Telephony Gateway with firmware 7.6.59S.CT and earlier allow remote attackers to hijack the authentication of administrators for requests that (1) enable remote management via a request to remote_management.php,...

CVE-2014-5438
Published: 2014-12-17
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in ARRIS Touchstone TG862G/CT Telephony Gateway with firmware 7.6.59S.CT and earlier allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the computer_name parameter to connected_devices_computers_edit.php.

CVE-2014-7170
Published: 2014-12-17
Race condition in Puppet Server 0.2.0 allows local users to obtain sensitive information by accessing it in between package installation or upgrade and the start of the service.

CVE-2014-7285
Published: 2014-12-17
The management console on the Symantec Web Gateway (SWG) appliance before 5.2.2 allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary OS commands by injecting command strings into unspecified PHP scripts.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.