Industrial Cyber Security Holds Center Stage At Year’s End

Industrial Cyber Security Holds Center Stage At Year’s End

Last week I wrote about the cyber attack on a safety integrated system probably in Saudi Arabia. There has been another attack. When media relations people saw that I had written about cyber security, I started receiving more releases.

Cyber security

Here is some additional commentary by Eddie Habibi, CEO and founder of PAS Global. That company has moved strongly from alarm management investing heavily in building a cyber security practice.

“Since 2010, attackers have been intent on learning how process control networks in critical infrastructure plants work, what systems are in place, where vulnerabilities exist, and how best to manipulate these systems to affect plant safety and performance.  Attackers have now moved beyond reconnaissance and are leveraging their acquired knowledge of control networks to interrupt production and create safety incidents.  They are targeting systems that in many cases produce electricity for our businesses, gasoline for our cars, or clean water for our homes.

The TRITON (a.k.a. TRISIS) malware attack underscores the capabilities that attackers have acquired and the fact that traditional security controls – namely air gapping and security by obscurity – are no longer sufficiently effective.  As TRITON targets an integral part of the independent protection layers that keep plants safe, this should raise red flags with every critical infrastructure company in the world.

One of the first steps companies must take is to get better visibility into the cyber assets in their plants. Eighty percent of the assets in a plant are outside of traditional IT cybersecurity programs.  This is clearly unacceptable given the threat landscape we face today. Once companies gain visibility, they can begin to implement fundamental security controls such as monitoring for unauthorized change or discovering hidden vulnerabilities.  Otherwise, malware such as TRITON will continue to find fertile ground for causing production disruptions and even environmental or physical harm.”

Cyber security challenges for practitioners

Part of my daily contact with PAS Global’s PR person included this tidbit from Habibi.

With these seismic attacks looming over manufacturing plants/facilities and other critical infrastructure, PAS Global has identified the top 8 critical challenges ICS directors are facing:

  • Lack of overall visibility of ICS vulnerabilities
    Vulnerability exploits are under reported
  • False sense of security in many ICS environments
  • More disclosures than capacity to investigate
  • Limited visibility into ICS vulnerabilities and risks
  • Vulnerability investigation is manual and research-intensive
  • Limited visibility into vulnerability remediation effectiveness
  • Manual, inconsistent patch management

HatMan Malware

And this from Emily S. Miller, Director of National Security and Critical Infrastructure Programs at Mocana:

ICS-CERT’s analysis of the HatMan malware revealed some interesting and novel tidbits. Not only did the actor develop a ‘more traditional PC-based component that interacts with the safety PLC,’ but the malware also contained components specifically designed to compromise the safety device itself, which allowed changes to the device firmware. The fact that this actor has the capability to access the safety instrumentation device, and potentially make changes to the device firmware unnoticed, should make critical infrastructure owner-operators sit up and take heed. Yes, in this case the malware tripped the safety systems and was noticed, but who’s to say the actor won’t learn from its mistakes or hasn’t already? Current recommended mitigations promote defense-in-depth strategies. While these are absolutely pieces of the puzzle, things like network monitoring and segmentation alone are clearly not sufficient when the bad actors keep getting in and doing bad things to both the devices and the data contained therein. We have to do better about both defending the network AND protecting the devices themselves.”

Link to How Mocana Protects graphic on Dropbox.

Yet more cyber attacks in the news

Further communications from the agency for PAS Global. I appreciate the humor. “I didn’t want you to go a day without hearing from me. What a concerning week we are having for critical infrastructure!”

The warning is from Nyotron, which says it has spotted a threat actor with likely links to Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Algeria using a repurposed malware tool to target specific critical infrastructure organizations in the Middle East.

“We’ve seen a seven-fold increase in the number of cyberattacks on industrial control systems (ICS) since 2010. What makes this increase particularly alarming is the enhanced level of sophistication of the attacks and the success they have shown in achieving their goals.

The fact that infected USBs are behind the Copperfield attack underscores the lack of adequate, foundational security within industrial facilities. Critical infrastructure security is clearly not trending in the right direction. 

The simple fact is that 80% of cyber assets in a facility are highly proprietary, do not work with IT security controls, and are largely invisible to security personnel.  If we cannot see these assets, how can we hope to secure them?  If we cannot secure them, then we are staring at a tumultuous 2018 because the bad guys are savvy to the insecurity of these systems.”

Meanwhile, here is another defense

Most experts I talk with discuss the need for a defense-in-depth strategy. Occasionally entrepreneurs in the field wax enthusiastically about their particular solution. Albert Rooyakkers is one of those intense entrepreneurs who has designed an industrial control product with cyber security at the heart of the design.

Here is the latest news from Bedrock Automation.

It has announced Bedrock Open Secure Automation (OSA) firmware will include intrinsic Anomaly Detection (AD).  Bedrock OSA AD will be available as standard integrated functionality that continuously monitors the controller’s network and system time t0 detect intrusions and anomalous behavior.

“Preventing control system intrusion is fundamental to holistic cyber security.  In addition, users need to know when the system security is being challenged.  This is the role of anomaly detection.  At no additional cost or complexity for the user, Bedrock’s AD delivers additional assurance that no one is tampering with your automation,” said Rooyakkers.  Bedrock Anomaly Detection includes the following functionality: 

  • Dynamic Port Connection Monitoring, which records all attempts to connect any controller or communication point and captures identifying information on the intruder
  • Network Port Scanning, which detects if hackers are scanning for open ports that might provide access to the control network
  • System Time Monitoring, which detects attempts to manipulate log files to conceal malicious activity
  • Cryptographic Controller Engineering Key Lock, which permits only users with valid user credentials to change the configuration and operation mode of the controller and records all access
  • Intrusion Event Logging, which records all detected anomalies and reports them to SCADA software through OPC UA and standard database access for historian, alarming, and trending functions.  Additionally, a tri-color status LED on the faceplate of Bedrock Controllers provides indication locally whenever an intrusion is detected.

Anomalous behavior detected at the controller level signifies a high likelihood of a cyber security event. Embedding detection into the controller provides advanced cyber defense while reducing complexity and lifecycle cost.  Bedrock AD will be standard on all Bedrock systems and is available as a free firmware upgrade to installed systems as part of Cybershield 3.0 in March 2018.

Cybersecurity Attack on an Industrial Safety System

Cybersecurity Attack on an Industrial Safety System

There was evidently a cybersecurity incident spotted yesterday. There was a report on FireEye quoted below. I also received this statement from CyberX. I am not primarily a cybersecurity writer, but this is significant.

“We have information that points to Saudi Arabia as the likely target of this attack, which would indicate Iran as the likely attacker. It’s widely believed that Iran was responsible for destructive attacks on Saudi Arabian IT networks in 2012 and more recently in 2017 with Shamoon, which destroyed ordinary PCs. This would definitely be an escalation of that threat because now we’re talking about critical infrastructure — but it’s also a logical next step for the adversary. Stuxnet and more recently Industroyer showed that modern industrial malware can be used to reprogram and manipulate critical devices such as industrial controllers, and TRITON appears to be simply an evolution of those approaches.” Phil Neray, VP of Industrial Cybersecurity for CyberX, a Boston-based industrial cybersecurity firm.

From the FireEye report (see complete analysis on its Website).

Mandiant recently responded to an incident at a critical infrastructure organization where an attacker deployed malware designed to manipulate industrial safety systems. The targeted systems provided emergency shutdown capability for industrial processes. We assess with moderate confidence that the attacker was developing the capability to cause physical damage and inadvertently shutdown operations. This malware, which we call TRITON, is an attack framework built to interact with Triconex Safety Instrumented System (SIS) controllers. We have not attributed the incident to a threat actor, though we believe the activity is consistent with a nation state preparing for an attack.

TRITON is one of a limited number of publicly identified malicious software families targeted at industrial control systems (ICS). It follows Stuxnet which was used against Iran in 2010 and Industroyer which we believe was deployed by Sandworm Team against Ukraine in 2016. TRITON is consistent with these attacks, in that it could prevent safety mechanisms from executing their intended function, resulting in a physical consequence.

The attacker gained remote access to an SIS engineering workstation and deployed the TRITON attack framework to reprogram the SIS controllers. During the incident, some SIS controllers entered a failed safe state, which automatically shutdown the industrial process and prompted the asset owner to initiate an investigation. The investigation found that the SIS controllers initiated a safe shutdown when application code between redundant processing units failed a validation check — resulting in an MP diagnostic failure message.

We assess with moderate confidence that the attacker inadvertently shutdown operations while developing the ability to cause physical damage for the following reasons:

Modifying the SIS could prevent it from functioning correctly, increasing the likelihood of a failure that would result in physical consequences.

TRITON was used to modify application memory on SIS controllers in the environment, which could have led to a failed validation check.

The failure occurred during the time period when TRITON was used.

It is not likely that existing or external conditions, in isolation, caused a fault during the time of the incident.

The TRITON attack tool was built with a number of features, including the ability to read and write programs, read and write individual functions and query the state of the SIS controller. However, only some of these capabilities were leveraged in the trilog.exe sample (e.g. the attacker did not leverage all of TRITON’s extensive reconnaissance capabilities).

The TRITON malware contained the capability to communicate with Triconex SIS controllers (e.g. send specific commands such as halt or read its memory content) and remotely reprogram them with an attacker-defined payload. The TRITON sample Mandiant analyzed added an attacker-provided program to the execution table of the Triconex controller. This sample left legitimate programs in place, expecting the controller to continue operating without a fault or exception. If the controller failed, TRITON would attempt to return it to a running state. If the controller did not recover within a defined time window, this sample would overwrite the malicious program with invalid data to cover its tracks.

PAS Announces Investment to Fuel Its Industrial Control System Cybersecurity Business

PAS Announces Investment to Fuel Its Industrial Control System Cybersecurity Business

Keep watching the cybersecurity space for more action.  Already this week, I wrote about two different approaches to industrial cybersecurity. Here is the story of an investment so that a company with history can pivot and go deeper into this market segment.

PAS has been known improving alarm management and control system asset integrity. It has moved aggressively into the cybersecurity area through leveraging existing technology and hiring talent. It has announced a $40 million growth investment by Tinicum, L.P. and certain affiliated funds managed by Tinicum Incorporated (“Tinicum”). Tinicum is a private investment partnership focused on late stage investments in manufacturing, energy, technology, media, and infrastructure.

This funding round will expand PAS sales and marketing across its global offices as well as increase research and development for Cyber Integrity, its flagship cybersecurity software product. Cyber Integrity protects critical infrastructure from risks associated with rising industrial internet of things (IoT) adoption, malicious cyber attacks, and insider threats.

“Critical infrastructure is vulnerable to outsider cyber attacks and to malicious or unintended insider actions,” says Trip Zedlitz, partner at Tinicum. “The cyber assets that matter most—the ones primarily responsible for safety and production in power generation plants, chemical facilities, and refineries—are some of the most insecure systems in the industry today. We invested in PAS because they secure this class of endpoints in a way that no other ICS cybersecurity software solution in the market can do, and they help companies comply with a growing regulatory and standards landscape that includes NERC CIP, NIST, and IEC 62443. With a strong management team and the rising global demand for critical infrastructure cybersecurity, we are excited about our investment in PAS.”

Industrial control systems have a responsibility for running critical infrastructure safely and reliably. These systems have traditionally relied on complexity, air gapping, and perimeter-based defenses to remain secure. Such strategies have proven largely unreliable and porous. PAS Cyber Integrity deciphers the complex, proprietary configurations of control systems giving companies complete visibility into critical cyber assets. It also identifies unauthorized changes, exposes vulnerabilities, drives compliance, and helps facilities recover rapidly in the event of a worst-case scenario. Cyber Integrity works across the heterogeneous automation environment, providing enterprise scalability, performance, and platform independence.

“PAS has a 23-year tradition of making industrial process facilities safer and more reliable,” says Eddie Habibi, founder and CEO at PAS. “Our deep expertise in control systems and production-centric approach to securing ICS give us a formidable competitive advantage. The investment from Tinicum enables us to expand our security solutions portfolio, strategically increase our global reach, and continue protecting our customers from an ever-evolving threat landscape.”

Signal Hill served as the exclusive financial advisor to PAS on the transaction. In conjunction with the investment, Plant Automation Services, Inc. (“PAS”) has reorganized under the new name PAS Global, LLC.

Industrial Cyber Security Becomes Increasingly Important

Industrial Cyber Security Becomes Increasingly Important

Cyber Security is always the “elephant in the room” at Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrial Control Systems (ICS) conferences.

The latest edition of the ARC Industry Forum in Orlando featured many cyber security firms. Most were monitoring network traffic for anomalies. Some look at other aspects of the system. More firms are pivoting from other emphases into a cyber security firm.

Here are two news items attacking cyber security from totally different angles. One from the enterprise; the other from the lowest level user.

Manage Cyber Security Risks

Deloitte, the enterprise consulting company, announced plans to expand its cyber risk platform for end-to-end industrial control systems (ICS) and operational technologies (OT) security with next generation technology enabled by Dragos, a cybersecurity company focusing on securing ICS and OT networks.

The tactic Deloitte is taking is to monitor emerging cyber threats. Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory Cyber Risk Services’ end-to-end ICS offering, enabled by Dragos technology, uses a combination of innovative cyber security products and services. This combination brings hunting and reconnaissance capabilities that now allow organizations to look beyond internal data to threat documentation found in external databases. Beyond securing ICS and OT systems, this combination of cyber risk services and technologies can provide a more complete picture of an organization’s ICS and OT threat landscape through active monitoring that can better inform scenario planning and response.

“Assessing the cyber risks of our clients’ ICS and OT, we see that many organizations are often unprepared for the magnitude of the impact to operational technology and industrial control systems environments” said Ed Powers, principal, Deloitte & Touche LLP, and U.S. leader for Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory Cyber Risk Services. “A decision to include OT and ICS as a part of a broader cyber risk management program can improve a company’s understanding of the potential damage resulting from a cyberattack and can bolster the efficacy of its cyber risk mitigation strategy.”

The Dragos Platform, Threat Operations Center, and intelligence team form an ecosystem of technology, people, and intelligence to safeguard industrial networks. The Dragos Platform is designed for industrial networks and provides visibility into the environment, detection of threats through behavioral analytics, and the automation of workflows including incident response data collection and analysis.

“There have been pockets of excellence around the community in industrial security leading practices. But the world is facing a more connected infrastructure and a more aggressive threat than we’ve seen in years past,” said Robert M. Lee, chief executive officer, Dragos. “Now is an important time to get the solution correct and that’s what the Dragos and Deloitte cooperation represents.” 

Protecting From USB Device Hacks

We all know about Stuxnet and how it was spread using malware in USB sticks. Well, here is an interesting tactic and new product from Honeywell.

Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) announced Secure Media Exchange (SMX) to protect facilities against current and emerging USB-borne threats, without the need for complex procedures or restrictions that impact operations or industrial personnel.

Malware spread through USB devices – used by employees and contractors to patch, update and exchange data with onsite control and computer systems – is a key risk for industrial control systems. It was the second leading threat to these systems in 2016, according to BSI publications, and uncontrolled USBs have taken power plants offline, downed turbine control workstations, and caused raw sewage floods, among other industrial accidents.

“Industrial operators often have hundreds or thousands of employees and dozens of contractors on site every day,” said Eric Knapp, Cyber Security chief engineer, HPS. “Many, if not most, of those rely on USB-removable media to get their jobs done. Plants need solutions that let people work efficiently, but also don’t compromise cyber security and, with it, industrial safety.”

Currently, many plants either ban USBs, which is difficult to enforce and significantly reduces productivity, or rely on traditional IT malware scanning solutions, which are difficult to maintain in an industrial control facility and provide limited protection. These solutions fail to protect process control networks against the latest threats, and offer no means to address targeted or zero-day attacks.

“SMX is a great example of Honeywell’s major investments in new industrial cyber security technologies, products, services, and research which further strengthen our ability to secure and protect industrial assets, operations and people,” said Jeff Zindel, vice president and general manager, Honeywell Industrial Cyber Security. “With the continued increase in cyber threats around the world, Honeywell’s industrial cyber security expertise and innovation are needed more than ever for smart industry, IIoT and critical infrastructure protection.”

Honeywell’s SMX was developed by the company’s cyber security experts based on field experience across global industrial sites and feedback from Honeywell User Group customers. Honeywell has one of the largest industrial cyber security research capabilities in the process industry, including an advanced cyber security lab near Atlanta. Honeywell also partners with cyber security leaders, including Microsoft, Intel Security and Palo Alto Networks, among others, to develop new, highly-effective industrial threat detection techniques.

Contractors “check-in” their USB drive by plugging it into an SMX Intelligence Gateway. The ruggedized industrial device analyzes files using a variety of techniques included with Honeywell’s Advanced Threat Intelligence Exchange (ATIX), a secure, hybrid-cloud threat analysis service.

SMX Client Software installed on plant Windows devices provides another layer of protection, controlling which USB devices are allowed to connect, preventing unverified USB removable media drives from being mounted, and stopping unverified files from being accessed. SMX also logs USB device connectivity and file access, providing a valuable audit capability.

“For most plants, the proliferation of removable media and USB devices is unavoidable, but the security risks they bring don’t have to be,” said Knapp. “We know our customers have limited resources to maintain another system, so Honeywell manages SMX for them. SMX never connects to our customers’ process control networks. From a system administration perspective, it’s like it’s not even there.”

Managed and maintained directly by Honeywell, SMX provides the easy and secure solution to USB security in industrial plants. It helps prevent the spread of malware through removable media; stops unverified files being read by Windows hosts; and, through the private ATIX connection, provides continually updated threat information and advanced analytics to help detect advanced, targeted, and zero-day malware.

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