Thursday, October 05, 2006

SCADA Security Incidents and Critical Infrastructure Insecurities

A decent article on the topic of the most hyped cyberterrorism threat of them all - direct attack on the critical infrastrcture of a country by attacking the SCADA devices -- despite increased connectivity and integration with third-party networks, for the time being misconfigurations and failures in maintainance make their impact. What is critical infrastructure anyway? In the days when it used to be a closed network, that is one isolated from the Internet and performance-obsessed top management, dealing with threats was benefiting from the controlled environment compared to the open Internet. Converging both infrastructures to maximize performance, project demand and supply, thus achieving cost-cutting and profits results in the basic truth that poluting the Internet would inevitably influence the what used to be closed critical infrastructure one -- and it already happened on several occasions. Incident in Australia :

"That was the case in Australia in April 2000. Vitek Boden, a former contractor, took control of the SCADA system controlling the sewage and water treatment system at Queensland's Maroochy Shire. Using a wireless connection and a stolen computer, Boden released millions of gallons of raw sewage and sludge into creeks, parks and a nearby hotel. He later went to jail for two years. Not surprisingly, U.S. companies are hesitant to talk about the security of their SCADA networks for fear they may give clues to hackers. But security consultants say problems with them are widespread. Allor's company, for instance, regularly does audits of SCADA systems at major installations such as power plants, oil refineries and water treatment systems.

Almost invariably, Allor said, the companies claim their SCADA systems are secure and not connected to the Internet. And almost invariably, he said, ISS consultants find a wireless connection that company officials didn't know about or other open doors for hackers. Realizing the growing threat, the federal government two years ago directed its Idaho National Laboratory to focus on SCADA security. The lab created the nation's first "test bed" for SCADA networks and began offering voluntary audits for companies."

And more security incidents courtesy of Filip Maertens - Cyber threats to critical infrastructures slides :

1992 -- Chevron -- Emergency system was sabotaged by disgruntled employee in over 22 states
1997 -- Worchester Airport -- External hacker shut down the air and ground traffic communication system for six hours
1998 -- Gazprom -- Foreign hackers seize control of the main EU gas pipelines using trojan horse attacks
2000 -- Queensland, Australia -- Disgruntled employee hacks into sewage system and releases over a million liters of raw sewage into the coastal waters
2002 -- Venezuela Port -- Hackers disable PLC components during a national unrest and general workers strike, disabled the country's main port
2003 -- U.S East Coast blackout -- A worm did not cause the blackout, yet the Blaster worm did significantly infect all systems that were related to the large scale power blackout
2003 -- Ohio Davis-Besse Nuclear Plant -- Plant safery monitoring system was shut down by the Slammer worm for over five hours
2003 -- Israel Electric Corporation -- Iran originating cyber attacks penetrate IEC, but fail to shut down the power grid using DoS attacks
2005 -- Daimler Chrysler -- 13 U.S manufacturing plants were shut down due to multiple internet worm infections (Zotob, RBot, IRCBot)
2005 -- International Energy Company -- Malware infected HMI system disabled the emergency stop of equipment under heavy weather conditions
2006 -- Middle East Sea Port -- Intrusion test gone wrong. ARP spoofing attacks shut down port signaling system
2006 -- International Petrochemical Company -- Extremist propaganda was found together with text files containing usernames & passwords of control systems

Go through the results of the Cyberstorm cyber exercise, and a previous post on The Biggest Military Hacks of All Time to grasp the big picture of what cyberterrorism and asymmetric warfare is all about.