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FCW : November and December 2015
what had been seen in worms and viruses up to then. Stuxnet was a wake-up call for organizations to the potential vulnerability of increasingly COTS and Internet connected ICS/SCADA systems. It was also a revelation to many hackers, who suddenly became aware of the potential of worms and viruses for specifically targeting ICS. Over the past few years, there have been a number of different variations of Stuxnet found in many ICS environments. Hackers have developed other types of threats as well using easily obtainable hacker tools. In 2014, for example, security researchers noticed that Havex, a remote access tool (RAT) used in targeted attacks, had been aimed at ICS environments with “trojanized” variations of the ICS/SCADA manu- facturers’ own control software. Late in 2014, the Department of Homeland Security’s ICS-CERT organization issued an alert about malware called BlackEnergy. This was said to be spreading through ICS environments via Internet-connected human- machine interfaces. It was initially designed to steal information, but was considered readily adaptable to a more malicious industrial sabotage application. ICS-CERT said BlackEnergy could have been burrowing into U.S. ICS environments since 2011. In its 2015 Annual Threat Report, Dell described a massive two-year increase in worldwide ICS/SCADA attacks, from slightly less than 92,000 in January 2012 to more than 675,000 in January 2014. Buffer overflow attacks— something common in traditional IT environments—were the primary method for a quarter of these. However, it warned, this might not paint the whole picture. “Because companies are only required to report data breaches that involve personal or payment information, SCADA attacks often go unreported,” the report states. “As a result, other industrial companies within the space might not even know a SCADA threat exists until they are targeted themselves.” This lack of information sharing, combined with the vulnerability of industrial machinery due to its advanced age “means that we can likely expect more SCADA attacks to occur in the coming months and years,” according to the report. POWER GRID AT RISK Most of the ICS environment in the U.S. is in the hands of the private sector, but with energy infrastruc- ture such as electricity grids, power plants and oil refineries seen as one of the biggest targets of cyber-attacks, the federal government is taking an active role in trying to boost security. The potential for disruption and cha- os following a successful attack is po- tentially wide-ranging. This is due to what the Department of Energy (DOE) calls the “increasingly interdepen- dent” nature of virtually all sectors of the nation’s energy system. “Further,” states the DOE in its recent 2015 Quadrennial Technology Review, “the power grid, buildings, manufacturing, fuels, and transportation sectors of the energy system are necessarily coupled to water systems, material flow, waste products, and energy financial markets.” In 2011, it published a roadmap on how to achieve cybersecurity for energy delivery systems. Since then, it has been funding development of security tools aimed at specific elements of the delivery infrastructure. “Cybersecurity is one of the most serious challenges facing grid modernization,” says Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary for DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, “which is why a robust, ever-growing pipeline of cutting-edge technologies is essential to helping the energy sector continue adapting to the evolving landscape.” The Department of Defense (DOD) is itself a large owner and operator of ICS, with around 2.5 million unique systems spread across 500 installations worldwide. Once it develops the appropriate policies, it intends to accurately inventory all its ICS systems, and then develop automated measures to detect, patch and manage cyber vulnerabilities across the DOD’s ICS infrastructure. In 2014, the DOD also decided to drop its DoD Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process (DIACAP) and adopt the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) risk framework as the basis for certifying and accrediting cybersecurity processes. As far as ICS is concerned, that means the DOD is now using NIST’s special publication 800-53. This defines the security safeguards to use with industrial control systems. “Cybersecurit y is one of the most serious challenges facing grid modernization” — Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary for DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability SPECIAL REPORT CYBER-THREATS AND INDUSTRIAL SECURITY Sponsored Content