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Vulnerabilities / Threats

11/27/2012
02:26 PM
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Thanksgiving SCADA Bug Hunt

Researcher scares up more than 20 SCADA vulnerabilities -- one in just seven minutes -- on Thanksgiving Day

A security researcher easily found 23 bugs in major SCADA products while roasting his turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

Aaron Portnoy, vice president of research at Exodus Intelligence, says he decided to dig up as many zero-day flaws in SCADA products as he could while his Thanksgiving dinner was in the oven. The plan: to report the bugs to ICS-CERT, which then would work with the vendors to get the bugs fixed.

It was the recent uptick in SCADA bug disclosures -- such as those of vulnerability sellers ReVuln -- that prompted Portnoy's holiday bug hunt. "We just recently took a shot at finding as many as we could to overlap with their discoveries and intend to report them all to the affected vendors so that issues in such critical infrastructure are not being sold on the open market," Portnoy says.

He found a remote code execution bug and a denial-of-service (DoS) flaw in Rockwell Automation SCADA products; three remote execution flaws and one DoS bug in Schneider Electric products; a DoS flaw in Indusoft SCADA products; eight DoS flaws in Realflex SCADA products; and three remote code execution bugs, two DoS, and three file vulnerabilities in Eaton Corp. products.

And cooking the turkey took way longer than rooting out the vulnerabilities: Portnoy found the first exploitable zero-day bug seven minutes after installing the software. "The most interesting thing about these bugs was how trivial they were to find," he says. It was harder to find the software to test than it was to discover the flaws in the software, he says.

It took the discovery of Stuxnet to shake up SCADA security. Finding SCADA vulnerabilities is all the rage today: Twenty times more software flaws have been discovered in industrial-control systems (ICS)/SCADA systems since Stuxnet's was unearthed in 2010. And Siemens, the vendor whose PLC system was Stuxnet's ultimate target, has patched 92 percent of reported vulnerabilities in its products over the past seven years, according to data gathered by Positive Technologies Security. Some 64 vulnerabilities were discovered and reported in industrial-control system products by the end of 2011, while only nine were reported between 2005 and 2011. And between January and August of this year, some 98 bugs were reported, according to Positive Technologies.

Portnoy plans to ask ICS-CERT to set up a repository of SCADA software product, or at the least a list, for researchers so they can vet the products under responsible disclosure practices.

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. 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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