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Perimeter

6/14/2019
09:10 AM
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Triton Attackers Seen Scanning US Power Grid Networks

The development follows speculation and concern among security experts that the attack group would expand its scope to the power grid.

The attackers behind the epic Triton/Trisis attack that in 2017 targeted and shut down a physical safety instrumentation system at a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia now have been discovered probing the networks of dozens of US and Asia-Pacific electric utilities.

Industrial-control system (ICS) security firm Dragos, which calls the attack group XENOTIME, says the attackers actually began scanning electric utility networks in the US and Asia-Pacific regions in late 2018 using similar tools and methods the attackers have used in targeting oil and gas companies in the Middle East and North America.

The findings follow speculation and concern among security experts that the Triton group would expand its scope into the power grid. To date, the only publicly known successful attack was that of the Saudi Arabian plant in 2017. In that attack, the Triton/Trisis malware was discovered embedded in a Schneider Electric customer's safety system controller. The attack could have been catastrophic, but an apparent misstep by the attackers inadvertently shut down the Schneider Triconex Emergency Shut Down (ESD) system.

Dragos said in a report published today that there's no evidence at this point that XENOTIME could actually wage a cyberattack that would result in "a prolonged disruptive or destructive event on electric utility operations," but that the hacking group's newly discovered activity around power grid providers is concerning. 

"XENOTIME, the most dangerous cyberthreat in the world, provides a prime example of threat proliferation in ICS. What was once considered an 'oil and gas threat' is now an electric threat, too," says Sergio Caltagirone, vice president of threat intelligence at Dragos. "Dragos expects this overlapping targeting will continue across sectors, from power, to water, to manufacturing, and more."

FireEye Mandiant earlier this year revealed that it discovered the Triton/Trisis attack code installed at an industrial organization, marking the first publicly revealed attack by the Triton/Trisis group since the original incident at the Saudia Arabian plant. FireEye analysts found a set of custom Triton/Trisis tools tied to this second victim's organization and the attackers inside the victim's corporate IT network. They declined to reveal the identity of the victim organization.

Meanwhile, the Triton/XENOTIME group in 2018 also compromised several ICS vendors, raising concerns of them waging supply chain-style attacks.

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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tdsan
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tdsan,
User Rank: Strategist
6/20/2019 | 5:53:13 PM
Triton Attack Comment
My question is why don't we have a ICS group that looks into all of the security issues associated with the US to come up with viable solutions like:

-> Blocking overseas addresses at the ISP layer

-> Create a security dashboard where threat intelligence is shared amoung energy companies, this prescriptive procedure allows organizations who are on the grid to keep ahead of the game especially when actors attack a specific site and they can view the remedy on how to thwart the attack

-> Utilize IPv6 as a way to communicate over the web using IPSec AES256 ESP/AH tunnels

-> Work with IBM and Deep Learning to identify the vulnerabilities in real-time (machine learning at the highest level)

-> Take the best of all Hardened linux machines and create a parallel processing OS that uses docker containers for application level processing where changes are made within a specific time period

-> Simultaneous authorization - Keys are unclocked by two people (similar to nuclear authorization)

-> Distributed NMS network is used to monitor traffic and external communication, anything not on the grid, it gets blocked

-> IP address range limited to devices that are allowed on the network (IPv6 only), only external power companies are able to communicate with the grid and their location is verified by GPS tracking system, if the object moves (routers/switches/firewalls, then someone is notified).

-> Cloud is used as a backup and/or DR resource if the onsite system is compromised, the command and control of the ICS environment can be moved to the cloud (direct connect to multiple CSP - Cloud Service Providers).

-> System recovery should be done in minutes instead of hours

Todd
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