Cybersecurity experts, and especially the media that reports on cybersecurity vulnerabilities, often love to just point fingers at companies. Seldom do they acknowledge a good response. Here is an item I picked up from a security services company, IOActive.

The company announced Jan. 9 that it has uncovered multiple vulnerabilities in Siemens’ SCALANCE X-200 Switch Family. These Ethernet switches are used to connect to Industrial Control Systems (ICS) components like Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs). The switches enable remote diagnostics and simplified configuration through a common web browser.

Senior security consultant for IOActive, Eireann Leverett, discovered two vulnerabilities in the switches. Both vulnerabilities were discovered in the web server authentication of the product. The first vulnerability could allow an attacker to perform administrative operations over the network without authentication, gaining access to critical services. The second vulnerability could allow an attacker to hijack web sessions over the network without authentication.

“Siemens ProductCERT were professional, courteous, and did not adopt an adversarial attitude when I contacted them about the vulnerabilities. Consequently, we were able to clarify the vulnerabilities quickly, and they produced a patch within three months,” said Eireann Leverett, senior security consultant for IOActive. “I challenge other ICS vendors to match this timeline for security patching in the future.”

Speedy Response

As soon as IOActive notified the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) of the vulnerabilities, Siemens ProductCERT wasted little time resolving the issue.

Leverett added, “The speed at which Siemens ProductCERT responded to the notification of these two vulnerabilities is something to be applauded. IOActive has always pushed vendors to respond when they receive notifications on vulnerabilities in their products. Siemens is the perfect example of how companies should respond when addressing these issues.”

Siemens ProductCERT is a team dedicated to accepting and handling security issues and vulnerabilities within their products. They co-ordinate with external and internal security researchers and work closely with the company’s product teams to develop fixes. ProductCERT publish the fixes as soon as they have been tested and credits the researchers who discovered the issues. The very existence of this team illustrates Siemens serious commitment to handling security issues smoothly and quickly.

Siemens has addressed both issues by providing a firmware update for the affected products.

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