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back to article SCADA security bug exposes world's critical infrastructure

Gasoline refineries, manufacturing plants and other industrial facilities that rely on computerized control systems could be vulnerable to a security flaw in a popular piece of software that in some cases allows attackers to remotely take control of critical operations and equipment. The vulnerability resides in CitectSCADA, a …

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Coat

Guess what'll happen?

That'll be another excuse to add 5p per litre for petrol, mark my words. Anyone know how to safely store drums of petrol safely in your kitchen next to the cooker?

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T5

I put lots of CAT6 in for SCADA systems at T5. Presumably a patch is on its way?

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Flame

time to bend over and....

And you wonder why Osama and Co are suddenly gone quiet at the moment...

They are all busy using all those ex-corporate PC's that were sent the the third world to train up and learn how to cause mass mischief over the internet...

next thing the DOHS will classify the PC as a WMD and we'll all be classed as enemys of the state....

though the policys of the Bush administration has made most of Non-US citizens enemys of the US already...

mines the bright orange one... with the big silver ankle and wrist chains ;p

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off the net

While SCADA developers should strive to make their software secure, I place the real blame on the morons that made their factory systems accessible from the Internet. Any program that controls heavy machinery should sit beyond multiple layers of security making sure that unauthorized parties can't even try to connect to the software - or, even better, it should be off the net altogether.

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Silver badge

It's all about good design

There is nothing wrong with hooking up SCADA networks with others, so long as it is done through proper gateways. That allows data collection for business purposes and even remote monitoring (so that you can wake engineers at 3am and ask them to take a look on their web browser rather than have them drive in to the factory etc).

On a micro scale, the same sort of partitioning also happens in CAN networks in cars. Critical stuff is on a different network from the body electronics (windows, lights etc). Both feed into the dash. With bad design, you could have a situation where a faulty light switch might overload the network and kill the brakes. With external networking (traffic info streams etc) in theory theres a network path for a hacker to kill your brakes. In practice very rigorous system partitioning makes this impossible.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

When will we learn

Article: "The flaw in CitectSCADA is related to a lack of proper length-checking that can result in a stack-based buffer overflow. "

Sigh. About the millionth time I read about this type of vulnerability. The saddest part is that a solution for these has been known since the 1960's: Use languages that catch array overflows and also do other strict compile- and runtime checking. The people who design systems where failure is not an option, like avionics or space systems know this and use Ada, which was designed with safety in mind. Several other languages with similar safety properties also exist, but C and C++ are not among them. (CitecSCADA was almost certainly implemented in C or C++, like most embedded systems these days).

Such checking cannot of course eliminate all bugs, but at least an overflow turns into a handleable exception or a crash needing a reboot, instead of potentially allowing malicious code execution. Which do you prefer?

Efficiency concerns? Less of a problem that you might think, especially with today's processors. A statically compiled safe language is anyway faster than Java. Smart compilers can also safely eliminate many of the runtime checks when compiling.

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Coat

In practice though

These SCADA systems, although based on standard components, are pretty much bespoke for each implementation. To achieve any real degree of control you'd have to have a lot of inside knowledge about the target.

In practice it would be easier to physically infiltrate the site and get up to mischief.

Mine's the blue overalls with the fake BT logo on...

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Boffin

Here, here!

Filipo and Charles have hit the nail on the head!

Yes, the software should be secure (not really that difficult with this stuff!) and the networks the software is being run on needs to be secure. None of these guys heard of proxies or VPN's? Tiered security with decent authorisation and authentication should cover it...

Hooking these sorts of systems up to the interweb in full view of some monkey intent on playing terrorist or anti-globalisation activist is like hooking a completely un-patched or protected Windows PC to the same interweb. You just wouldn't would you?

Goggles - safety first!

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@AC, Rodent and Duncan

The petrol companies don't add 5p per litre to the price because their costs go up. They add 5p to the price because they can. Capitalism in full tilt.

Duncan - agree agree w your comments. Assuming Tiered security includes boring things like VLANs - this isn't that tough to implement and payscales assume that network admins know and do this.

ADA is still alive? That's cool. Does anyone know if APL is still around? Someone could write a complete SCADA deployment in one line of APL code. Though it wouldn't sound as catchy as "ADA for SCADA".

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Linux

fushin

As per others comments ,it shouldnt even be near the internet ,as per tiering

and layered security ...security 101 ffs.

Strange how only Citec ( SCADA) has been mentioned over the last few years in SCADA kb's.

To expose major infrastructure with a web server ( as it does ) to external public subnets is actually breaching the laws in some countries and states. {<>}and any admin or manager who allows this should be fired .

These exploits will continue until we stop using the MS c+ development platform as mentioned in the other posts and utilise secure coding principles and platforms.

This scada package unfortunately only runs on the ms os ,and not nux ,apple etc.

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