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.

Risk

8/4/2008
02:36 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Hacking Nukes

It's rare that I read something in a press release that I agree with, let alone find frightening, but this release from Lumeta scared the heebe geebees out of me.

It's rare that I read something in a press release that I agree with, let alone find frightening, but this release from Lumeta scared the heebe geebees out of me.Security firm Lumeta makes the case that increased connectivity with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and TCP/IP networks will increase the risk of IT network-style security incidents.

In that, I have no doubt.

Here's the real-life incident the release is based on:

For example, in March, the Hatch Nuclear Power Plant in Georgia went through an emergency shutdown as a result of a software update that was made on the plant's business network. The business network was in two-way communication with the plant's SCADA network and the update synchronized information on both systems. Reset after a reboot, the SCADA safety systems detected a lack of data and signaled that the water level in the cooling systems for the nuclear fuel rods had dropped, which caused an automatic shutdown. Engineers were aware of the two-way communication link, but they did not know that the update would synchronize data between the two networks.

There was no danger to the public, but any time an electric generation plant shuts down, the power company loses millions of dollars in revenue and has to incur the substantial expense of getting the plant back online -- no small task for a nuclear facility. And the Hatch incident was only the latest in a string of accidents and unnecessary shutdowns whose cause was due to some problem on the network. The Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama, for example, shut down in 2006 when a network traffic overload locked up pump controls.

In the case of Hatch Nuclear Power Plant, engineers chose to sever all physical connections between the SCADA and business networks.

If you don't want to take the accounting of the incident from a press release (and who could blame you), read this account "Cyber Incident Blamed for Nuclear Power Plant Shutdown", from The Washington Post.

Lumeta advises facilities to regularly check that their SCADA networks are not connected to their business networks. I agree, and that goes without saying. But when it comes to security, like doing regular backups, many organizations Talk The Talk, but don't Walk the Walk. And all it takes is some nitwit, somewhere, to purposely, or more likely inadvertently, connect SCADA systems to the general LAN and risk to the utility goes up exponentially.

It's only a matter of time before we witness a nasty close call (hopefully that's all it is.)

Have a look at this now famous CNN/DHS video on YouTube:

Makes you wonder when, not if, there's ever going to be an incident.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
Ransomware Is Not the Problem
Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  6/9/2021
Edge-DRsplash-11-edge-ask-the-experts
How Can I Test the Security of My Home-Office Employees' Routers?
John Bock, Senior Research Scientist,  6/7/2021
News
New Ransomware Group Claiming Connection to REvil Gang Surfaces
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  6/10/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Google's new See No Evil policy......
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-24368
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-20
The Quiz And Survey Master – Best Quiz, Exam and Survey Plugin WordPress plugin before 7.1.18 did not sanitise or escape its result_id parameter when displaying an existing quiz result page, leading to a reflected Cross-Site Scripting issue. This c...
CVE-2021-31664
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
RIOT-OS 2021.01 before commit 44741ff99f7a71df45420635b238b9c22093647a contains a buffer overflow which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
CVE-2021-33185
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
SerenityOS contains a buffer overflow in the set_range test in TestBitmap which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
CVE-2021-33186
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
SerenityOS in test-crypto.cpp contains a stack buffer overflow which could allow attackers to obtain sensitive information.
CVE-2021-31272
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-18
SerenityOS before commit 3844e8569689dd476064a0759d704bc64fb3ca2c contains a directory traversal vulnerability in tar/unzip that may lead to command execution or privilege escalation.