Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

8/6/2015
12:10 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Defending Industrial Ethernet Switches Is Not Easy, But Doable

Attacks and vulnerabilities against ICS and SCADA can be detected and monitored if operational folks know their network infrastructure.

BLACK HAT USA -- Las Vegas -- A team of researchers who found a slew of vulnerabilities across five models of Industrial Ethernet Switches said that the SCADA community can monitor for and respond to vulnerabilities in their network devices and do not have to necessarily depend on vendors to do the defense.

The team found 11 vulnerabilities ranging from cross-site scripting attacks to default key manipulation across five families of network devices from four different vendors -- Garrettcom, GE, Opengear, and Siemens.

Many in the Industrial Control System (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) community assume that their massively vulnerable infrastructure can only be fixed by the vendors, according to Éireann Leverett, who works with the University of Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies. 

“We need vendors to do better. We want them to do better,” Leverett said. “But we as a community, especially in the ICS and SCADA community don’t need vendors to do defense.  A lot of the attacks and vulnerabilities being demonstrated, you can easily monitor for them and easily detect and respond to them.  It is really about empowering the community versus feeling helpless,” he said.

“A lot of these switches have configurations that you can turn on or modify and that will strengthen your security. A lot of work can be done by yourself without harassing the vendor to say, ‘Look we need this fixed,” Colin Cassady, a security consultant with IOActive, said.

Cassady, Leverett, and Robert Lee, co-founder of Dragos Security LLC, presented their findings during a press briefing and later in more detail during a session titled Switches Get Stitches.

Industrial Control Systems have become an area of increasing concern for cybersecurity as the world has become more connected and information technology and operational technology are more intertwined.  The Industrial Ethernet Switches are used in environments such as substations, factories, refineries, ports, or other homes of industrial automation.  If attackers are able to compromise these switches, malicious firmware could be inserted to manipulate live processes such as the shutting down of a plant or a nuclear reactor.

Since industrial system protocols lack authentication or cryptographic integrity, the researchers focused on attacking the management plane of the switches. The discovered vulnerabilities were reported to the vendors.  Patching of ICS/SCADA devices by vendors can take from months to a year.

That is why the researchers were surprised by Opengear’s turnaround time after a vulnerability was disclosed in one of its family of switches.  Leverett reported an old vulnerability listed in the National Vulnerability Database as CVE-2006-5229. The vulnerability, associated with OpenSSH portable 4.1 on SUSE Linux, and possibly other platforms and versions, allows remote attackers to determine valid usernames via timing discrepancies in which responses take longer for valid usernames than invalid ones, according to the NVD. 

Opengear officials responded with a fix within a week, in “sprint time,” compared to the other vendors, Cassady noted.  It took Siemens six months to respond with fixes to various vulnerabilities.

“It is great when Opengear comes back and says, ‘Not only are we not going to sue you for exploiting these vulnerabilities, but here is another [device] find the vulnerabilities’” Lee said.  “That is great for the research community.”  But not every vendor company is like that.

As a result, “we need engineers, operators, and operational technology security folks to take a look at the network, understand the environment they are in, and monitor it for these occurrences,” Lee said.

“Our greatest strength in the community, the thing that gives us the most defensible territory is folks understanding their environment and abnormalities and changes in it,” Lee noted.  Network architects, operational people and process engineers who really know their environments can spot adversaries very quickly. This work can be difficult given process and time management constraints, he acknowledged.

“It is not an easy thing, but it is a doable thing,” Lee said.

Black Hat USA is happening! Check it out here.

Rutrell Yasin has more than 30 years of experience writing about the application of information technology in business and government. View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/6/2020
Russian Cyber Gang 'Cosmic Lynx' Focuses on Email Fraud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/7/2020
Lessons from COVID-19 Cyberattacks: Where Do We Go Next?
Derek Manky, Chief of Security Insights and Global Threat Alliances, FortiGuard Labs,  7/2/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-3931
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-08
Buffer overflow exists in Geovision Door Access Control device family, an unauthenticated remote attacker can execute arbitrary command.
CVE-2020-15600
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
An issue was discovered in CMSUno before 1.6.1. uno.php allows CSRF to change the admin password.
CVE-2020-15599
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
Victor CMS through 2019-02-28 allows XSS via the register.php user_firstname or user_lastname field.
CVE-2020-8916
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
A memory leak in Openthread's wpantund versions up to commit 0e5d1601febb869f583e944785e5685c6c747be7, when used in an environment where wpanctl is directly interfacing with the control driver (eg: debug environments) can allow an attacker to crash the service (DoS). We recommend updating, or to res...
CVE-2020-12821
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
Gossipsub 1.0 does not properly resist invalid message spam, such as an eclipse attack or a sybil attack.