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Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: Industrial IT Team on November 27, 2012

“Lacking extravagant IT budgets, automation systems also require cyber security systems that just work, with a minimum of human intervention.”

I could not agree more. The above statement is part of a quote from Bob Lockhart of Pike Research that is contained in today’s press release regarding the new ConneXium Tofino Firewall, a new product that we created with Schneider Electric. It speaks to my core belief that in order to make SCADA and ICS cyber security effective, we need to make it easy to deploy, configure and maintain.

That philosophy has been part of the fundamental design of the Tofino Industrial Security Solution since my days in the BCIT lab1. This new joint Schneider Electric/Tofino Security product moves that vision another step forward by introducing a number of really cool ease of use features.

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Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: Industrial IT Team on November 12, 2012

Who is responsible for fixing the thousands (some say 100,000) of vulnerabilities that exist in PLCs, DCS, RTUs and other automation devices that are in use in facilities around the world?

On the one hand, we have the position of Dale Peterson at Digital Bond. Dale ardently argues for (and takes) aggressive measures to pressure ICS vendors into making their products more secure. Through their 2012 Project Basecamp and subsequent disclosures, Digital Bond publically released vulnerability details for a large number of controllers.

At the same time, they provided matching attack software, software that could cause serious operational failures at hundreds of critical infrastructure sites around the world. Are these disclosures effective and justified pressure tactics? Or are they irresponsible acts that could harm people, companies and economies?

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Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: Industrial IT Team on November 06, 2012

In last week's blog, Heather wrote an excellent summary of Mark Cooksley's network security presentation regarding "Why Industrial Networks are Different than IT Networks". In it she noted that the number one goal of ICS security is based on the concern for safety. This is spot-on in my opinion. However, there is more to consider when it comes to industrial security priorities…

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Tags: ICS Security

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Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: on November 05, 2012

Previously we looked at the question of 'Why are PLCs so insecure?' Today we are going to come at SCADA security from another angle, which is 'Why is securing Industrial Networks different than securing IT Networks?'We will also look at three ways to address these differences.

Recently I attended the Belden Industrial Ethernet Infrastructure Design Seminar and participated in an excellent session by Mark Cooksley, product manager for network management in Belden’s Hirschmann brand, called 'Introduction to Network Security'. It did a great job of explaining why Industrial Control Systems (ICS) are easy to attack, and it also explained high level solutions for securing them.

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Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: on October 29, 2012

Ed. Note: This is a significant update to an article first published on Sept 25, 2012. The original article is available as a download in Related Links.

The most destructive post-Stuxnet discovery of advanced threats is a malicious malware known as Shamoon. Like Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame, it targeted energy companies in the Middle East, this time Saudi Aramco, Qatar's RasGas and likely other oil and gas concerns in the region. It is a new species however, because it did not disrupt an industrial process as Stuxnet did, nor did it stealthily steal business information as Flame and Duqu did. Instead it removed and overwrote the information on the hard drives of 30,000 to 55,000 (yes, those numbers are correct!) workstations of Saudi Aramco (and who knows how many more at other firms).

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Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: Industrial IT Team on October 18, 2012

Last week I wrote about a serious issue in the patching of SCADA and ICS systems. Just when you think you are installing all needed patches, some critical ones are getting missed.

Unfortunately, I think even the phrase “installing all needed patches” is too optimistic. In my surveys of SCADA and ICS facilities, I find that even when operating system patches are getting installed, application patches are not. For example, many HMIs are running copies of Abode PDF Reader that haven’t been patched in years. Considering that Adobe has released over 30 critical security patches for Reader in the past three years, this is a gaping security hole.

Clearly security vulnerabilities aren’t just an operating system problem. And they are not just a business application problem. We saw the number of publicly disclosed security vulnerabilities for SCADA and ICS products jump dramatically in 2011. For 2012, all indications are that the situation will be worse. Many of these vulnerabilities are not on Windows computers, but rather critical hardware such as PLCs, DCS controllers, RTUs, switches, routers and even firewalls!

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Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: Industrial IT Team on October 12, 2012

Yesterday afternoon I received a note from another security expert that has left me a bit stunned. Like most of you, I assumed that if you are patching your Windows computers on your SCADA or ICS system (using some variation of Microsoft Windows Update), then any vulnerable services that can be patched will be patched. Well guess again – you may still have a number of open vulnerabilities that are happily being missed by the Windows update service. And scariest of all, you can’t do much about it.

Welcome to the Wild World of Windows Common Controls
To understand why this is possible, it helps to know a little about something called Windows Common Controls. Common Controls are executable routines that Microsoft supplies to give applications from different developers for a unified look and feel. For example, the Tool Tip Control creates those small rectangular windows that display help text when you place the cursor over some button or tab and wait for few milliseconds.

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Blog Category: Industrial Security

Posted by: on October 08, 2012

For those of us passionate about industrial security it is great to see it being integrated into networking training as it was at the Belden Industrial Ethernet Infrastructure Design Seminar held near Chicago earlier this week.

At this event end users, Systems Integrators and channel partners learnt about industrial Ethernet networking by attending a wide range of lectures and hands-on labs. There were several sessions and labs on industrial security, and the luncheon speakers on each of the first two days focused on security.

Greg Hale, the Editor and Founder of ISSSource.com (a publication we recommend) spoke yesterday and he brought forward a number of interesting points on the cost of cyberattacks, the need for employee training and awareness, and vigilance.

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