IoT and Control Systems Soft Targets for Cyber Hackers

IoT and Control Systems Soft Targets for Cyber Hackers

Internet of Things installations along with industrial control systems constitute well known cybersecurity vulnerabilities within industrial plants and operations. CyberX, the IoT and industrial control system (ICS) security company, announced the availability of its “2020 Global IoT/ICS Risk Report” designed to sharpen awareness and knowledge of this critical area.

The data illustrates that IoT/ICS networks and unmanaged devices are soft targets for adversaries, increasing the risk of costly downtime, catastrophic safety and environmental incidents, and theft of sensitive intellectual property.

Some of the top findings noted that these networks have outdated operating systems (71 percent of sites), use unencrypted passwords (64 percent) and lack automatic antivirus updates (66 percent).

Energy utilities and oil and gas firms, which are generally subject to stricter regulations, fared better than other sectors such as manufacturing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, mining, transportation and building management systems (CCTV, HVAC, etc.).

Now in its third year, CyberX’s “Global IoT/ICS Risk Report” is based on analyzing real-world traffic from more than 1,800 production IoT/ICS networks across a range of sectors worldwide, making it a more accurate snapshot of the current state of IoT/ICS security than survey-based studies.

Including the data presented in previous reports, CyberX has now analyzed over 3,000 IoT/ICS networks worldwide using its patented M2M-aware behavioral analytics and non-invasive agentless monitoring technology.

Recommendations Focus on Prioritization and Compensating Controls

The report concludes with a practical seven step process for mitigating IoT/ICS cyber risk based on recommendations developed by NIST and Idaho National Labs (INL), a global authority on critical infrastructure and ICS security.

Experts agree that organizations can’t fully prevent determined attackers from compromising their networks. As a result, they recommend prioritizing vulnerability remediation for “crown jewel” assets — critical assets whose compromise would cause a major revenue or safety impact — while implementing compensating controls such as continuous monitoring and behavioral anomaly detection (BAD) to quickly spot intruders before they can cause real damage to operations.

“Our goal is to bring board-level awareness of the risk posed by easily-exploited vulnerabilities in IoT/ICS networks and unmanaged devices — along with practical recommendations about how to reduce it,” said Omer Schneider, CyberX CEO and co-founder.

“Today’s adversaries — ranging from nation-states to cybercriminals and hacktivists — are highly motivated and capable of compromising our most critical operational systems,” said Nir Giller, CyberX GM, CTO and co-founder. “It’s now incumbent on boards and management teams to recognize the risk and ensure appropriate security and governance processes are in place across all their facilities to address it.”

Summary of Key Findings

  • Broken Windows: Outdated Operating Systems. 62 percent of sites have unsupported Microsoft Windows boxes such as Windows XP and Windows 2000 that no longer receive regular security patches from Microsoft, making them especially vulnerable to ransomware and destructive malware. The figure rises to 71 percent with Windows 7 included, which reaches end-of-support status in January 2020.
  • Hiding in Plain Sight: Unencrypted Passwords. 64 percent of sites have unencrypted passwords traversing their networks, making it easy for adversaries to compromise additional systems simply by sniffing the network traffic.
  • Excessive Access: Remotely Accessible Devices. 54 percent of sites have devices that can be remotely accessed using standard management protocols such as RDP, SSH and VNC, enabling attackers to pivot undetected from initial footholds to other critical assets. For example, during the TRITON attack on the safety systems in a petrochemical facility, the adversary leveraged RDP to pivot from the IT network to the OT network in order to deploy its targeted zero-day malware.
  • Clear and Present Danger: Indicators of Threats. 22 percent of sites exhibited indicators of threats, including suspicious activity such as scan traffic, malicious DNS queries, abnormal HTTP headers, excessive number of connections between devices and malware such as LockerGoga and EternalBlue.
  • Not Minding the Gap: Direct Internet Connections. 27 percent of sites analyzed have a direct connection to the internet. Security professionals and bad actors alike know that it takes only one internet-connected device to provide a gateway into IoT/ICS networks for malware and targeted attacks, enabling the subsequent compromise of many more systems across the enterprise.
  • Stale Signatures: No Automatic Antivirus Updates: 66 percent of sites are not automatically updating Windows systems with the latest antivirus definitions. Antivirus is the very first layer of defense against known malware — and the lack of antivirus is one reason why CyberX routinely finds older malware such as WannaCry and Conficker in IoT/ICS networks.
IoT and Control Systems Soft Targets for Cyber Hackers

Cybersecurity Zero Day Threats and Executive Survey

Cybersecurity is in the news more often than violence or politics, its seems. Last week I received two important pieces of news—both reported below. The first details vulnerabilities found in VxWorks—the most widely used Real-Time Operating System forming the foundation for process control. The other news concerns a survey of executives that shows continued cyber attacks on industrial systems.

Zero Day Vulnerabilities

Enterprise IoT security company, Armis, announced the discovery of 11 zero-day vulnerabilities, 6 critical, that affect Wind River® VxWorks versions since version 6.5, that include the IPnet stack, collectively known as “URGENT/11.” Updated releases have been provided. URGENT/11 does not impact versions of the product designed for certification, such as VxWorks 653 and VxWorks Cert Edition.

VxWorks, the leading real-time operating system (RTOS), is used in more than two billion devices across industrial, medical and enterprise environments such as mission-critical systems including SCADA, elevator and industrial controllers, patient monitors and MRI machines, as well as firewalls, routers, satellite modems, VOIP phones and printers. If exploited, URGENT/11 could allow a complete takeover of the device and cause disruption on a scale similar to what resulted from the EternalBlue vulnerability.

“VxWorks is the most widely used operating system you may never have heard of,” said Ben Seri, vice president of research at Armis. “A wide variety of industries rely on VxWorks to run their critical devices in their daily operations—from healthcare to manufacturing and even security businesses. This is why URGENT/11 is so important. The potential for compromise of critical devices and equipment especially in manufacturing and healthcare is a big concern.”

URGENT/11 includes six Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerabilities that could give an attacker full control over a targeted device, via unauthenticated network packets. Any connected device leveraging VxWorks that includes the IPnet stack is affected by at least one of the discovered vulnerabilities. They include some devices that are located at the perimeter of organizational networks that are internet-facing such as modems, routers and firewalls. Any vulnerability in such a device may enable an attacker to breach networks directly from the internet. Devices protected by perimeter security measures also can be vulnerable once the devices create TCP connections to the internet. These connections can be hijacked and used to trigger the discovered TCP vulnerabilities, allowing attackers to take over the device and access the internal network.

“URGENT/11 could allow attackers to remotely exploit and take over mission critical devices, bypassing traditional perimeter and device security. Every business with these devices needs to ensure they are protected,” said Yevgeny Dibrov, CEO and co-founder of Armis. “The vulnerabilities in these unmanaged and IoT devices can be leveraged to manipulate data, disrupt physical world equipment, and put people’s lives at risk.”

VxWorks is pervasive and trusted due to its rigorous and high-achieving safety certifications and its high degree of reliability and real-time accuracy. In its 32-year history, only 13 Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) have been listed by MITRE as affecting VxWorks. Armis discovered unusually low-level vulnerabilities within the IPnet stack affecting these specific VxWorks versions released in the last 13 years, from versions 6.5 and above. These are the most severe vulnerabilities found in VxWorks to date.

The IPnet networking stack was acquired by Wind River through its acquisition of Interpeak in 2006. Prior to the acquisition, the stack was broadly licensed to and deployed by a number of real-time operating system vendors.

Wind River has been working in collaboration with Armis on this matter, and customers were notified and issued patches to address the vulnerabilities last month. To the best of both companies knowledge, there is no indication the URGENT/11 vulnerabilities have been exploited.

Organizations deploying devices with VxWorks should patch impacted devices immediately. More information can be found in the Wind River Security Alert posted on the company’s Security Center.

Operational Downtime is the Most Common Impact of IoT-Focused Cyberattacks

As connectivity in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) promises to transform the manufacturing and production industry, new research by Irdeto underlines the importance of cybersecurity, revealing that 79% of manufacturing and production organizations surveyed have experienced an IoT-focused cyberattack in the past year. This finding demonstrates the importance of cybersecurity as IoT devices proliferate across the critical infrastructure of these organizations, to ensure that the potential business benefits of IoT can be realized safely.

The Irdeto Global Connected Industries Cybersecurity Survey of 220 security decision makers in organizations in this sector (700 respondents in total) found that of the organizations that were hit by an attack, operational downtime (47%), compromised customer data (35%) and compromised end-user safety (33%) were the most common impacts. These findings clearly point to a direct bearing on revenue as well as health safety challenges presented by unsecured IoT devices.

The research also suggests that these organizations are aware of where the key cybersecurity vulnerabilities exist with their infrastructure, but do not necessarily have everything they need to address them. The most prominent vulnerabilities within manufacturing and production organizations were in mobile devices and apps (46%). This was followed by the IT network (41%) and the software used by the organization (40%) – which if referring to the OT equipment software which runs of the factory floor, could be hugely problematic.

However, despite this awareness, 92% of respondents feel their organization does not have everything it needs to address cybersecurity challenges. 44% state that their organization needs to implement a more robust security strategy. This is followed by a need for additional expertise/skills within the organization to address all aspects of cybersecurity (42%) and a need for more effective cybersecurity tools (37%).

This is compounded by the finding that, in the manufacturing sector, a total of 91% of manufacturers and 96% of users of IoT devices state that the cybersecurity of the IoT devices that they manufacture or use could be improved either to a great extent or to some extent. Failure to address these challenges could prove costly with the average financial impact as a result of an IoT-focused cyberattack in the manufacturing space identified as more than $280,000 USD, according to the survey.

“While the benefits of IoT may be in abundance in manufacturing and industrial environments, this connectivity also increases the attack surface and these findings demonstrate that there is an awareness of the cybersecurity challenges and impacts within the industry, but potentially a need to rethink strategies to mitigate the impact of potential cyberattacks,” said Mark Hearn, Director of IoT Security and Business Development, Irdeto. “Whatever the nature of the threat, industrial and manufacturing organizations must understand the scope of their current risk, ask hard cybersecurity-centric questions to vendors, and work with trusted advisors to safely embrace connectivity in their manufacturing process.”

As organizations fight to keep pace with the cybersecurity challenges in the manufacturing sector, they do have several security measures in place, but have often not implemented enough layers into their security strategy. 21% of organizations surveyed do not currently have software protection technologies implemented, while 39% do not have mobile app protection implemented, despite identifying mobile devices and apps as the greatest source of vulnerabilities. In addition, only 50% make security part of the product design lifecycle process.

However, the majority of organizations that don’t already have these measures in place, state that they plan to implement them in the next year. In addition, 99% of the manufacturing organizations surveyed agree that a security solution should be an enabler of new business models, not just a cost. These findings suggest that attitudes towards IoT security are changing for the better.

“As the manufacturing industry embraces IoT technology it’s clear that there are many cybersecurity challenges that must be addressed, but the industry attitude towards cybersecurity is on the right track,” added Steeve Huin, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Business Development and Marketing, Irdeto. “As the scope of connected manufacturing grows, the opportunities and the risks are magnified and it is imperative that organizations upskill and implement robust cybersecurity strategies to ensure they mitigate the threat and safely take advantage of the benefits that IoT can bring.”

IoT and Control Systems Soft Targets for Cyber Hackers

ISA Announces First Founding Members of Global Cybersecurity Alliance

The International Society of Automation (ISA) held a press conference today to announce the first Founding Members of its new Global Cybersecurity Alliance (GCA): Schneider Electric, Rockwell Automation, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Claroty, and Nozomi Networks.

As we would expect, the speakers emphasized the importance of standards as the foundation for work in the Alliance. Speakers also tied in safety and productivity as partners with cybersecurity in protecting and improving manufacturing and critical infrastructure facilities and processes. I’m not so sure just exactly what the Alliance will accomplish, but if it succeeds in just raising awareness and a sense of urgency among companies it the industries, it will have accomplished an important task.

ISA created the Global Cybersecurity Alliance to advance cybersecurity readiness and awareness in manufacturing and critical infrastructure facilities and processes. The Alliance brings end-user companies, automation and control systems providers, IT infrastructure providers, services providers, and system integrators and other cybersecurity stakeholder organizations together to proactively address growing threats.

ISA is the developer of the ANSI/ISA 62443 series of automation and control systems cybersecurity standards, which have been adopted by the International Electrotechnical Commission as IEC 62443 and endorsed by the United Nations. The standards define requirements and procedures for implementing electronically secure automation and industrial control systems and security practices and assessing electronic security performance. The standards approach the cybersecurity challenge in a holistic way, bridging the gap between operations and information technology.

Leveraging the ISA/IEC 62443 standards, the Global Cybersecurity Alliance will work to increase awareness and expertise, openly share knowledge and information, and develop best practice tools to help companies navigate the entire lifecycle of cybersecurity protection. The Alliance will work closely with government agencies, regulatory bodies, and stakeholder organizations around the world.

“Accelerating and expanding globally relevant standards, certification, and education programs will increase workforce competence, and help end users identify gaps, reduce risks, and ensure they have the tools and systems they need to protect their facilities and installations,” said Mary Ramsey, ISA Executive Director. “Through the proliferation of standards and compliance programs, we will strengthen our global cyber culture and transform the way industry identifies and manages cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities to their operations.”

The press release notes that first Founding Members of the Alliance are leading multi-national, industrial-technology providers with deep expertise in technology and applications, and they’ll apply their experience and knowledge to accomplish the Alliance’s priorities. However, two of the members were represented by building automation divisions. Two of the members are cybersecurity suppliers. Rockwell Automation is a pure play factory and process automation company and its Maverick Technologies division has been an ardent supporter of ISA. Schneider Electric is a large, multi-disciplined company, and I’m not sure which division within it is the sponsor.

“Participating in the Alliance truly shows the commitment our founding members have to the safety and security of the industrial ecosystem, as well as the criticality of collectively moving forward together to ensure the standards, best practices and methods are applied,” Ramsey said.

“ISA engaged with discussions, initiated by Schneider Electric, to create an ISA-led global, open and industry-wide alliance comprised of all cybersecurity stakeholder companies. ISA quickly expanded those conversations to include Rockwell Automation, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Claroty, and Nozomi Networks. These first Founding Members have since worked together to help us define the Alliance’s objectives. We are thankful for their collaboration and commitment. Together we welcome companies and organizations from all segments of industry to join our efforts.”

The Alliance is seeking additional members to support its initiatives. End-user companies, asset owners, automation and control systems providers, IT infrastructure providers, services providers, and system integrators and other cybersecurity stakeholder organizations are invited to join. Annual contributions to fund initiatives are based on company revenues and are tax-deductible.

Perspectives: Quotes from the ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance Founding Members

“Over the last few years, global industry has recognized that taking on increasingly dangerous cyber risks can’t be limited to a single company, segment, or region. However, until now, there has been limited ability to respond as a unified whole to these worldwide threats. But by establishing an open, collaborative, and transparent body, with a focus on strengthening people, processes, and technology, we can drive true cultural change. We are pleased that ISA has stepped forward, and we look forward to working openly and collaboratively with them, our fellow Founding Members, and many others affiliated with global industry, especially end users. Together we will bring to bear the standards-based technology, expertise, and special skills required to better secure and protect the world’s most critical operations and the people and communities we serve.” — Klaus Jaeckle, Chief Product Security Officer, Schneider Electric

“Cybersecurity is critical to digital transformation. It’s critical not only for the protection of information and intellectual property, but also for the protection of physical assets, the environment, and worker safety. We make it a priority to collaborate with partners and research institutions to develop secure products. Rockwell Automation participated in the development of the 62443 standards from the beginning and continues to support ISA cybersecurity initiatives. Our engagement with the Global Cybersecurity Alliance will be another important step in our efforts to help customers identify and mitigate risks.” — Blake Moret, CEO, Rockwell Automation

“Cybersecurity is the great equalizer to all companies. It’s critical to the connected world we live in and the cornerstone of trust that the world needs to be able to operate. Whether protecting critical infrastructure or managing a building’s operations, users need to do this with the confidence the employed systems are robust and secure. We are committed to and proud to work together ISA and the GCA members to continue to drive the adoption of the ISA/IEC 62443 series of standards and identify further ways to secure and protect the connected world which we live. At Honeywell, we see cybersecurity as a core part of the future we are making, and we see the GCA as an important way to work together to make that happen.” — Matthew Bohne, Vice President and Chief of Product Security, Honeywell Building Technologies

“Digital transformation in the building sector continues to accelerate, which heightens the urgency for cybersecurity across the industry and beyond. As a leader in the industrial automation controls business, Johnson Controls is already a strategic member of the ISASecure program and is consistently taking proactive actions to protect customers against cyber-threats and risks. Joining ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance is a necessary and meaningful step as it supports our company values, customer adoption of the ISA/IEC 62443 standard and efforts to educate global government and regulatory bodies. We are proud to solidify our commitment to this important effort.” — Jason Christman, Vice President, Chief Product Security Officer, Global Products, Johnson Controls

“One of the most effective ways to drive consistency in an industry is by putting standards in place, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with all of these founding members, as well as future Alliance members, to help drive global best-practices forward in this historically standard-less environment. Claroty is committed to the mission of protecting all IoT and OT networks from cyber risks. Through our work with the Global Cybersecurity Alliance, we will be able to help shape the future of cybersecurity in these high-risk industries.” — Dave Weinstein, Chief Security Officer, Claroty

“Nozomi Networks believes real community collaboration, actionable standards and effective education are key ensuring a secure future for industrial organizations around the world. That’s why we are helping develop secure-by-design standards as a working member of ISA99 standards committees, why we’ve designed our industrial cyber security solutions for easy integration across the broadest possible set of industrial and IT technologies; and why we are thrilled to help establish the Global Cybersecurity Alliance. Together we will build a secure future for the industrial infrastructure that runs the world.” — Andrea Carcano, Nozomi Networks Co-founder and Chief Product Officer

IoT and Control Systems Soft Targets for Cyber Hackers

Siemens and Chonicle Partner For Cyber Security

Cyber Security got a shout-out during the Siemens Spotlight on Innovation forum in Orlando last week. Leo Simonovich, VP and Global Head, Industrial Cyber and Digital Security at Siemens Gas and Power, and Mike Wiacek, co-founder & CSO of Chronicle (an Alphabet company) took the stage discussing their newly signed cyber security agreement.

Key phrase—“customers can own their environment”. Perhaps the most interesting conversation I had during the networking event was with a Chronicle tech person who gave me a deep dive into the product. This is security unlike everything else I investigate in the OT realm. This isn’t a network monitoring app. Nor is it a device that acts as a firewall for industrial control devices. It builds a huge database and adds analytics (which is “in our DNA”). The solution has two parts—visibility and context. It bridges IT and OT worlds with the intent to “democratize security for the success of the digital economy”; that is, make it accessible to customers, simple, affordable, easy-to-use.

Through a unified approach that will leverage Chronicle’s Backstory platform and Siemens’ strength in industrial cyber security, the combined offering gives energy customers unparalleled visibility across information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) to provide operational insights and confidentially act on threats.

The energy industry has historically been unable to centrally apply analytics to process data streams, cost-effectively store and secure data, and identify malicious threats within OT systems. Research conducted by Siemens and Ponemon Institute found that while 60 percent of energy companies want to leverage analytics, only 20 percent are utilizing any analytics to do security monitoring in the OT environment. Small and medium enterprises are particularly vulnerable to security breaches as they frequently do not have the internal expertise to manage and address increasingly sophisticated attacks.

“The innovative partnership between Siemens and Chronicle demonstrates a new frontier in applying the power of security analytics to critical infrastructure that is increasingly dependent on digital technology,” said Simonovich. “Cyber-attacks targeting energy companies have reached unprecedented speeds, and our cutting-edge managed service unlocks the analytics ecosystem offers a new level of protection from potential operational, business and safety losses.”

“Energy infrastructure is an obvious example of cyber-attacks affecting the physical world and directly impacting people’s lives,” said Ansh Patnaik, Chief Product Officer, Chronicle. “Backstory’s security telemetry processing capabilities, combined with Siemens’ deep expertise, gives customers new options for protecting their operations.”

The partnership between Siemens and Chronicle will help energy companies securely and cost-effectively leverage the cloud to store and categorize data, while applying analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to OT systems that can identify patterns, anomalies, and cyber threats. Chronicle’s Backstory, a global security telemetry platform for investigation and threat hunting, will be the backbone of Siemens managed service for industrial cyber monitoring, including in both hybrid and cloud environments. This combined solution enables security across the industry’s operating environment – from energy exploration and extraction to power generation and delivery.

Gaining Trust In Your Data Systems

Gaining Trust In Your Data Systems

Digitalization breeds the need for data and connected devices. Trusted connections and data are required for success. Siemens invited a diverse group of press, analysts, podcasters, and bloggers to Munich this week (November 26-28) to discuss cybersecurity and the Charter of Trust.

I will use the words of Siemens below to discuss the rationale for the Charter of Trust. However the idea is that if users cannot trust their data and connections, they will never go further into digitalization and therefore not realize the anticipated benefits.

Some of the analysts and others in the conference had trouble understanding how something seemingly vague and not specifically standards-based would work. I think they missed the point. First, standards are good, but they take a long time to develop. What was needed was not another new standard. What is needed is for many companies to agree to a set of principles and then commonly work toward them for the mutual benefit of the industry, users, and society.

Eva Schulz-Kamm, Global Head of Government Affairs at Siemens AG, and Rainer Zahner, Global Head of Cybersecurity Governance at Siemens told us the digital world is changing everything. Billions of devices are connected by the Internet of things. That holds great potential for everyone, but also great risk. The risk of exposure to cyber-attacks. The risk of losing control over the systems that run our infrastructures. Cybersecurity is therefore crucial to the success of our digital economy – because only if the security of data and networked systems is guaranteed will people actively support the digital transformation. Then explained why Siemens has initiated the Charter of Trust.

Siemens’ 171 years of experience have also shown that the best way to make a lasting difference isn’t as one company, but as an industry – not only as one nation, but as part of a global community. In modern history, competitor businesses have forged standards together that have carried the world from one industrial revolution to the next – including the unfolding digital transformation of industry. Countries without clear-cut geopolitical alliances have come together to forge cross-border agreements that grow trade and advance peace.

It’s in this spirit that Siemens launched the Charter of Trust earlier this year at the at the Munich Security Conference, a longstanding forum for business and government leaders to discuss geopolitical issues. Since then, several more global companies saw the value of the Charter of Trust, and signed on. These companies committed to create the first-of-its-kind global alliance focused on answering a very important question: How do we secure critical infrastructure – from our factories to our power grids – in the digital age?

We also are carrying an important message together: that when we talk about security today, it isn’t just about diplomacy and resolving military conflicts – it is increasingly about cyber attacks that seek to undermine our democratic and economic values.

The Charter of Trust then begins with these three goals:

  • protecting the data and assets of individuals and businesses;
  • preventing damage to people, businesses, and infrastructures;
  • building a reliable basis for trust in a connected and digital world.

“We know at the outset that a one-size fits all approach won’t work. We have instead agreed to 10 principles – from ensuring the highest levels of responsibility for cybersecurity within every company, to securing supply chains, products, and working with governments. Together, we will develop and continuously improve coordinated strategies and shared standards to protect critical infrastructures, public facilities and private companies.”

Charter of Trust members: The AES Corporation, Airbus, Allianz, Atos, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Enel, IBM, Munich Security Conference, NXP Semiconductors, SGS,. Deutsche Telekom, Total and TÜV SÜD.