The vulnerable systems include Siemens Tecnomatix FactoryLink 22.214.171.1243 (six vulnerabilities, though one is DOS-only), Iconics Genesis32 and Genesis64 10.51 (13 vulnerabilities), 7-Technologies IGSS -- Interactive Graphical SCADA System -- 9.00.00.11059 (8 vulnerabilities), and DATAC RealWin 2.1 (8 vulnerabilities). US-CERT's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team released four related security bulletins.
In particular, the Siemens software can be made to download a file, raising the possibility of a remote code execution attack. In addition, the IGSS software is vulnerable to arbitrary file execution. Most of the other detailed vulnerabilities involve buffer overflows and other threats which, according to experts cited by Wired News, pose little danger except the threat of a system crash.
But in an email interview, Auriemma disputed that assessment -- which he ascribed to an Iconics employee -- and noted that the buffer overflow bugs could be used to execute arbitrary code. “My code demonstrates that code execution is possible and... allows anyone to become [an] administrator on the vulnerable systems,” he said.
Industrial control systems -- aka SCADA software -- operate in everything from food processing plants and airports to chemical refineries and nuclear plants, and the market is growing. According to Frost & Sullivan, SCADA market revenues are due to rise from $4.6 billion in 2009 to almost $7 billion in 2016.
But are SCADA vendors paying sufficient attention to the security of their software? For years, security experts have been warning that too much industrial control software relies on "security by obscurity" -- that is, assuming that attackers won't have the requisite wherewithal or knowledge to break into the software, or that the software wouldn't reside on a network. But as networked environments have become the norm, even in critical infrastructure environments, SCADA software -- which may have a lifespan of 10 years or more -- can be a security weak point.
The emergence last year of Stuxnet, in particular, demonstrated that network-born threats could not only infect control system PCs, but damage physical equipment.
As Auriemma highlights in his bug disclosure, the security issue is simple: Software is software, no matter where it's running or what it's controlling. "In technical terms the SCADA software is just the same as any other software used everyday, so with inputs -- in this case they are servers so the input is the TCP/IP network -- and vulnerabilities: stack and heap overflows, integer overflows, arbitrary commands execution, format strings, double and arbitrary memory frees, memory corruptions, directory traversals, design problems and various other bugs," he said.