Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

12/5/2018
06:45 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Symantec Intros USB Scanning Tool for ICS Operators

ICSP Neural is designed to address USB-borne malware threats.

USB-borne malware continues to present a major threat to industrial control systems (ICS) nearly a decade after the Stuxnet attacks on Iran's nuclear infrastructure first highlighted the danger.

This week Symantec unveiled a new product it says is designed to help organizations in critical infrastructure sectors better manage the threat.

The security vendor's new Industrial Control System Protection Neural (ICSP Neural) is a rugged USB scanning station that ICS operators can install in their environments for vetting the security of USB devices before the devices are inserted into a critical control system.

The scanner uses data from Symantec's threat intelligence network to look for malware and risky files on USB memory sticks. It features a light sandbox for running scripts, files, and other executables on USB devices to check for malware.

ICSP supports file reputation scans and a self-learning capability that Symantec says allows the scanner to identify, with a high degree of precision, not just known malware threats but also ones that are previously unknown. Devices with malware are cleaned and electronically "watermarked" as safe with a small, signed file.

ICSP includes an optional enforcement driver that organizations can install on workstations and other OT systems if they choose. The relatively lightweight driver — with less than a 5 MB footprint — ensures only USBs that have been scanned and watermarked as safe are allowed to mount on a target system.

The driver can currently be installed on OT systems running Windows XP to Windows 10. It works with workstations and human machine interface (HMI) systems from a variety of vendors, including Emerson and Rockwell. Symantec plans to introduce support for Linux systems sometime next year.

Symantec's new technology is similar to a tool that ICS vendor Honeywell introduced in 2017 called Secure Media Exchange (SMX). Like ICSP, Honeywell's SMX is designed to help operations and plant managers protect control systems against USB-borne malware threats, especially those targeted at OT environments and therefore not easily detected by standard antivirus tools.

Employees in industrial settings simply insert their removable media into SMX while checking in and checking out, so any malware on them can be detected and removed. As with ICSP Neural, plant managers can use the Honeywell appliance to prevent unchecked USB devices from using USB ports on critical systems.

ICSP addresses an important need for ICS operators, says Kunal Agarwal, general manager of IoT at Symantec.

Because of how critical they are, many ICS environments are typically air-gapped — inaccessible via network from the outside. In these situations, USB devices are critical to delivering software updates, files, patches, configuration changes, and other data to ICSes, Agarwal says. Often these devices represent the only way to provide ongoing updates and maintenance to critical systems, even though a high percentage of them contain malware and other threats, he says.

Honeywell recently analyzed data collected from 50 organizations in four sectors — oil and gas, energy, chemical, and paper and pulp — that are using SMX. The data showed 44% of the organizations had detected and blocked at least one suspicious file on a USB device.

Of the threats that were blocked, 26% had the potential to create a major disruption — such as loss of visibility or control — in an ICS environment, Honeywell said in the report. Sixteen percent of the threats were specifically targeted at ICSes, and 15% contained known malware, including Stuxnet, Mirai, WannaCry and Triton. In addition to Trojans, other threats that were blocked included bots, hacking tools, and potentially unwanted applications.

Significantly, malware is not the only threat that USB devices pose.

"Malicious USB devices crafted specifically to attack computers via the USB interface have become readily available for purchase online," Honeywell noted in its report. "BadUSB — a technique that turns USB devices such as fans and charging cables into potential attack vectors — has increasingly been weaponized."

Related Content:

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
mehmoodawan108
50%
50%
mehmoodawan108,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/6/2018 | 6:14:02 AM
Nice post
Thanks for the post
Microsoft Patches Wormable RCE Vulns in Remote Desktop Services
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  8/13/2019
The Mainframe Is Seeing a Resurgence. Is Security Keeping Pace?
Ray Overby, Co-Founder & President at Key Resources, Inc.,  8/15/2019
GitHub Named in Capital One Breach Lawsuit
Dark Reading Staff 8/14/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-15151
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-18
AdPlug 2.3.1 has a double free in the Cu6mPlayer class in u6m.h.
CVE-2019-15149
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-18
core.py in Mitogen before 0.2.8 has a typo that drops the unidirectional-routing protection mechanism in the case of a child that is initiated by another child. The Ansible extension is unaffected.
CVE-2019-15145
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-18
DjVuLibre 3.5.27 allows attackers to cause a denial-of-service attack (application crash via an out-of-bounds read) by crafting a corrupted JB2 image file that is mishandled in JB2Dict::JB2Codec::get_direct_context in libdjvu/JB2Image.h because of a missing zero-bytes check in libdjvu/GBitmap.h.
CVE-2019-15146
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-18
GoPro GPMF-parser 1.2.2 has a heap-based buffer over-read (4 bytes) in GPMF_Next in GPMF_parser.c.
CVE-2019-15147
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-18
GoPro GPMF-parser 1.2.2 has an out-of-bounds read and SEGV in GPMF_Next in GPMF_parser.c.