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Published:  2012-10-28 Views:  562
Author:  Laforge
Published in:  Disease
Stuxnet - cyber safety and SCADA networks

DA VINCI CODE OR CYBER Security THREAT? A rumour that Israel was behind Stuxnet gained strength when the word -myrtus' was found in the worm's code and linked to Queen Esther, said to possess saved the Persian Jews from genocide within the 4th century BC. The Israeli theory persisted into 2011 and in January, the New York Times gave it more teeth with evidence that Stuxnet -was an American-Israeli project to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program. Indeed all 5 attacks in between June 2009 and May very well 2010 had been on organisations with a presence in Iran. The media speculation and hype had currently gone into overdrive in 2010: the potent mix of cyber spies, designer viruses and nuclear power was basically irresistible. This was unfortunate because the dangers posed by Stuxnet and comparable forms of malware are highly true: the worm had in actual fact infiltrated SCADA systems the many way from Germany to India.

However designer Trojans like Stuxnet aren't new or uncommon. -Anyone who looks at it carefully can create some thing like it' in accordance with Ralph Langner. Designer Trojans are typical with the Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attacks we've observed in rising numbers in the last handful of years. APT campaigns are highly targeted, sophisticated, persistent and fairly tough to cease or even detect with common IT safety systems.

Within a previous White Paper e-Espionage-How True is definitely the Danger?, we discussed extremely organised attacks against high value public and private sector targets, from governments to finance and resource suppliers. Essential national infrastructure which include communications and logistic hubs, power stations, and industrial plants are clear next targets.

ISLANDS NO A great deal more Lengthy just before the internet, industrial networks and their manage systems had been quarantined from the rest of a plant's network. -Security by way of obscurity' was provided by specialised protocols and proprietary system codes connecting physical assets through Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). That altered in the 1990's when the makers of SCADA systems embraced Windows Pc platforms as operational front-ends to get richer functionality and lessen duplication and expense. Industrial systems were soon connected to organization systems to produce operational information alot more accessible to maintenance teams, plant managers and small business units. At present, most industrial networks are connected to corporate IP networks. Whilst this has resulted in business enterprise and program efficiencies, it has also exposed SCADA and ICS systems to internet-borne attacks.

OLD World Safety As the Stuxnet story unfolded, it was revealed that Siemens' SCADA systems operated on hard-coded default passwords. Security analysts shook their heads in dismay when Siemens warned that changing these passwords could make its systems inoperable. In the old planet when SCADA systems had been islands, hard-coded passwords weren't an issue; inside a connected atmosphere, this can be unacceptable practice.

Any security newbie knows that removable media pose the highest risk in cyber security. A latest example was IBM handing out infected USB sticks to attendees with the 2010 AusCERT conference. For historic factors, SCADA systems are usually upgraded by means of removable media like USB drives, and Stuxnet was designed particularly to exploit this anachronism.

In reality, engineers apply patches only when certainly necessary because SCADA systems manage important water supplies, power grids and gas pipelines in real time. Within this scenario, a faulty patch could bring about -a multi-billion dollar disaster with hundreds of dead, injured and long-term disabled people'. It follows that rigorous processes for patch updates are in location that include Manage systems to be updated only by authorised staff; Systems updates to become carried out below strict supervision; Removable media for SCADA upgrade to be scanned beforehand; and The quantity of files contained to be verified with the CRC or hash totals for every file.

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