Friday News & Notes

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is looking to award contracts to build one or more Reconfigurable Control System Cyber Security Testbeds, see diagram below. This could be useful for basic education, that a lot of University programs are calling research, on what ICS is and ICSsec 101.

ICS Testbed

Read Adam Crain’s article this week on a specific type of attack on DNP3 master stations. He points out it is not fuzzing, just an unexpected use of the protocol that causes a lot of crashes/denial of service. “With a vulnerability like this, however, you can take down the entire master and all the remote sessions with a single packet.” The DNP3 Technical Committee has put out “Technical Bulletin TB2014-006, Clarification of the Use of Variation 0 with Object Groups 110-113″. Does that sound like a call to arms on a security issue? You may remember that the DNP3 Technical Committee previously stressed that the Crain/Sistrunk vulns were not related to the DNP3 specification.

NIST will hold another workshop on the Cybersecurity Framework, Oct 29-30 in Tampa. “The purpose of this workshop is to gather input to help NIST understand stakeholder awareness of, and initial experiences with, the framework and related activities to support its use.” We have been pleasantly surprised by our experience with the CSF. Not the document itself, but the conversations and action it has spawned. This is not due to the roll out; more in spite of the roll out and a recognition of need.


UPDATE: Moved from comments to main post

Extra ICS news from France last week…
ANSSI publications:

  • Cybersecurity for Industrial Control Systems – Classification Method and Key Measures
  • Cybersecurity for Industrial Control Systems – Detailed Measures

At first glance just another framework but the focus on measures with some prescriptiveness seems this framework is worthy of closer inspection.

Digital Bonds Labs Expands…

corey_thuenI am very happy to announce that Corey Thuen will be joining Digital Bond Labs as a researcher and consultant.  Long-time followers of Digital Bond and the S4 conference will know Corey as co-creator of,  ”SCADA from Scratch,” a project he started with Ken Shaw using off-the-shelf embedded tools to create a secure-by-design control system (this tool is the subject of a recent article in Forbes, as well as an upcoming Kickstarter).  He has also proctored Idaho National Labs’ much-lauded Red/Blue Training, and co-taught a protocol fuzz-testing class with Adam Crain at S4x14.

Corey brings us a ton of experience in protocol analysis, fuzz-testing, and building and testing control systems.  We could not be happier to have him on our team.

  • Siemens Industrial Security

Friday News & Notes

Letter FKaspersky issued a research report on Havex they called Energetic Bear – Crouching Yeti after the threat actor. It’s probably worth it’s own post and worth reading but here are three highlights.

On page 15 (HT: Damiano Bolzoni) they describe the Network Scanning Module that looks for much more than OPC servers. It is scanning for Modbus (502), Siemens S7 (102), EtherNet/IP (44818) and ports for two proprietary ICS vendor protocols. Much like Stuxnet, I expect we are just starting to learn what Havex’s ICS capabilities are. Is it asking too much for DHS/INL to actually perform research and inform the community? It’s understandable, after the fact, why they didn’t research Stuxnet, but this is only the second piece of public ICS malware. Stop sending fly away teams for telnet password cracking attacks and other corporate network exploits and use that pricey ICSsec expertise developed over the last decade.

Kaspersky identifies the Swiss company, Mesa Imaging. This is what we were told and is very helpful for identifying the target. Mesa Imaging is not an ICS vendor. So what company or country sector is using eWon, MB Connect and Mesa Imaging products? That is the best clue so far for who the threat actor was targeting with that phase of the attack.

Kaspersky states there is not enough data to identify the Crouching Yeti threat actor. Some have pointed the finger at Russia, but I’d agree that there is not dispositive evidence in the public at this time.

Belden announced Tofino 2.0 this week. Lot’s of good technical info surrounding the obligatory marketing hype in Eric’s blog entry. I want to dig into the technical details more in a future article and perhaps podcast. The EtherNet/IP Deep Packet Inspection had to be a bear to write, and I’m looking forward to running it through some use cases. When are we going to see this technology integrated into a PLC Ethernet module?

Take note of the latest ICS-CERT advisory from the Crain/Sistrunk DNP3 Telegyr 8979 master fuzzing. This one is related to a SUBNET Solutions product. Most important is a 13-word sentence: “SUBNET had also determined the root issue was in the GPT software library“. The GPT software library was sold by ASE to a number of ICS vendors that now have a latent, remotely exploitable vuln that is available to all. Shouldn’t ICS-CERT be disclosing these vendor names so affected electric utilities can take action? This could be a difficult fix because ASE is no longer selling the GPT/Protocol Pak, but SUBNET found a way.

All software needs to be part of your security patching program … including your security software. Latest example is a new 0day in Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP). It’s also why you keep your attack surface as small as possible.

Cisco takes your IoT and raises it to Internet of Everything (IoE). They announced partnerships with Rockwell Automation and Yokogawa to support “risk management and compliance for industrial control environments.” It’s one of those press releases that is hard to digest. “It addresses risks using a combination of people, process and technology.” The best I can tell is Cisco will be helping Rockwell Automation and Yokogawa design Cisco products into their ICS.

Graham Speake made the move from Yokogawa to NexDefense. NexDefense is another Mike Assante venture that is trying to commercialize the INL Sophia product. Mike also heads up the SANS ICS security program, and Graham is a SANS ICS security instructor as well as longtime active participant in ISA99. Good luck Graham.

EMET 5.0 is now available from Microsoft. This latest version adds Attack Surface Reduction and Export Address Table Filtering Plus. EMET has gotten some traction in the ICS space, especially for vendors that seem to have little concern for security or fixing identified vulns.

You can get some great tools at reasonable prices by backing the right Kickstarter campaigns. We will be taking the RFIDIer out to an assessment next week, and we should be soon getting our HackRF’s. Look for soon to follow reviews so you can consider them for your toolkit.

Image by ChrisInPlymouth

On Mobile Device ICS App Security

redphone_ekilbyI was talking a while ago to Justin Engler, a friend who also happens to be a really talented web app and mobile app security researcher, about the popping-up of ICS management software for mobile devices.  He theorized that mobile apps for ICS would be an interesting place to watch for bugs nearly three years ago.  Dale’s recent ICSJWG Q&A over mobile device security gave me a little motivation to dig into some sample apps and see how the field actually looks.  The results highlight some of the issues that your organization will run into if and when you decide to adopt mobile.

The focus of this post is not just application security.  While there are a few specific vulnerable applications mentioned, I think that the big lessons should be ones of architecture and integration challenges.  The current lot of ICS management apps pay little mind to securing access or preventing bad operation.  Even an app with ‘secure’ on its product homepage may leave you wide open.

I decided to pick on Android simply because my only jailbroken iOS device at the moment is so terribly destroyed from years of abuse that installing new apps is a nonstarter. There also seems to be more interesting control systems apps for Android at the moment.

A quick survey of Google’s Play store for terms such as ‘SCADA’’, ‘PLC’, and ‘OPC’ turns up a few applications worth checking out.  Unfortunately there are no apps that I could find which do what Dale prescribes: obtain safe, accurate, remote, ‘read-only’ access to control system data.  Doing so will require a lot of backend work on your part.

Let’s take a look at two interesting vulnerable applications.

Read More

Friday News & Notes

SCADA Security NewsAfter the PG&E substation shooting, FERC had ordered NERC, as the ERO, to develop and submit a Physical Security Reliability Standard within a very short time frame for this type of work. NERC complied and now FERC says they will approve the standard with two changes. FERC wants the ability to add or remove facilities from the critical facilities list. While they say this would be “exercised only rarely”, this is a crack in the door or slippery slope that is likely to give utilities heartburn. FERC also wants to replace “widespread instability” with “instability”. There needs to be an adjective in front of instability.

Critical Intelligence is holding a one day conference and two days of training called CounterIntel, Sept 16-18 in Park City, UT. The two day training is to help you be a more effective Cyber Intelligence Analyst, and the whole event is limited to owner/operators. Living in the Park City area, I can tell you it is a great time to hold a conference here.

Read the Kyle Wilhoit of FireEye article on how Havex enumerates OPC Servers. Great work.

The automobile sector has started the Auto Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Auto-ISAC). ISAC’s have a very mixed record based, but it seems every sector will have one.

Image by ChrisinPlymouth (the F king)

S4x15 Week: Call for Papers/Presentations

ICS Security

The S4x15 Week Call for Papers/Presentations is now out.

Send us your session ideas asap to have the best chance of getting on the agenda. All we need is a short description and time requirement mailed to

We are calling it S4x15 Week now because it goes Tuesday – Friday (Jan 13-16 in Miami Beach):

  • Tuesday – OTDay and ICS Village Opens
  • Wednesday – Day 1 of S4x15
  • Thursday – Day 2 of S4x15
  • Friday – ICSage:ICS Cyberweapons and Advanced Topics ICS Security Training

The CFP gives more detail on each day and the type of sessions we are looking for.

I wish that we could sit back and wait for all the great sessions to come in, but history has shown that we need to hunt for this great work and unknown talent. If you see or hear about anything that we should chase for S4x15 week, please let us know.

Last year was a big step forward for the ICS security community. We moved past low hanging fruit; we brought in some top security researchers from outside the ICS space; and there was a new focus on what an attacker would do after successful exploit.

We are looking forward to seeing some new and amazing work for S4x15.

Digital Bond Labs Open For Business

open_chipgriffinWay back at the Spring 2014 ICSJWG meeting, Dale announced that Digital Bond is opening a new division — Digital Bond Labs.  This week, we are officially opened for business…and we are hiring.

Digital Bond has a long reputation for building the tools that other ICS consultants use ten years down the road.  It seems that every other talk given in the ICS security community lately make reference to Digital Bond’s intrusion detection signatures, Nessus audit files, or Project Basecamp exploit demos.

At Digital Bond Labs, we aim to provide the best in the business at breaking control systems software, security add-ons, and access control systems for both end-users and vendors.  Our goal is simple: break all the things that make all the things so that we can rebuild them to be more robust and more secure.  In the Digital Bond tradition, we will also continue to focus on valuable research to share with the ICS community.

Read More

Even Little Bobby Knows

Remote AccessWe are working with Robert M. Lee and his publisher to get SCADA and Me in Japanese for a giveaway on OTDay of S4xJapan (agenda and registration open on Aug 4th). I wish I had the page above as a hidden slide to pull out at ICSJWG last month.

While most of my presentation involved the secure and insecure way to use the cloud in the future for analysis of process data, the most contentious point was on remote access. The easiest way to get into an ICS with a good security perimeter is to compromise an administrator, engineer or technician that has remote access to the ICS. The ICS Spear Phishing session at S4x13 showed how something as simple as a fake maintenance bulletin would have led to compromise of over 25% of the targeted users with remote access to the ICS.

Here’s the basic solution. Push the data out so the right people can view it without jeopardising the integrity and availability of the ICS. Have a physical disconnect for the remote access, and close the connection only in emergency situations following a defined process. Use your automation skills to put this capability on a display in the control room with the appropriate alarms and logging, and auto open after a time limit. If you are having multiple emergencies a week that require remote access your system is not under control or you are understaffed.

Someone in the audience, who actually is in the business of advising industry, pushed back hard at these limitations on remote access. Paraphrasing he said “c’mon we all know that this generation is going to demand and have remote access with a control and admin capability from their smart phone in their basement. What do you recommend to secure this?” This is when I needed the SCADA and Me page. “If you can control it from a phone — so can Bad People.”

Lior Frenkel of Waterfall said something after my session that I told him I’ll be stealing from now on. “You’re part of the critical infrastructure. Act like it!”

Friday News & Notes

SCADA SecurityGive eWON some credit. They released information that their website was compromised for a short time in January, and issued an updated notice late last week on their home page. Still nothing on the MB Connect or Swiss vendor site to tell customers they may be compromised by Havex if they downloaded and ran their software. Companies are going to have security incidents; customers should be looking and considering how they respond.

Alstom Grid has a new product coming out in response to the PG&E substation shootings called e-terrasheriff. It will detect and report gunshots at unmanned substations, and presumedly integrate this into the e-terra SCADA displays.

DHS has opened the CFP for the ICSJWG Fall Meeting. After attending and speaking at the Spring Meeting I was going to pass on this one, but holding it in Idaho Falls will dampen attendance.

The first release of Automotive Grade Linux is out. “Each component includes a detailed Design Requirements Document (DRD) with descriptions, use cases, HMI flows, graphical assets, architecture diagrams and more.”

We have always appreciated the Swedish contingent that has supported S4 since the start. Now they have created their own event, 4SICS, Oct 22-23 in Stockholm. They are working on the agenda, but they already have some great technical ICS talent in Europe lined up. Lueders, Santamarta, Hjelmvik, …

DHS is looking for a lead and partners for their Critical Infrastructure Resilience Center of Excellence (CIRC). “Each COE is led by a U.S. college or university and has multiple partners. COE partners include other academic institutions, private industry, DHS components, DOE National Laboratories and other Federally-Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), other federal agencies that have homeland security-relevant missions, state/local/tribal governments, and first responder organizations.”

A Honeywell help wanted ad is illustrative of how ICS vendors are trying to generate revenue from cyber security. “This position will be responsible for leading, managing and growing the Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) industrial cyber security global remote managed services business.”

IETF has an initial draft standard out for “Two Way Authentication for IoT“.

Michael Toecker Starts Context Industrial Security

Michael ToeckerMichael Toecker recently has joined the ranks of Digital Bond alumni and is starting his own firm. Here is his farewall blog entry. Best of luck Mike and welcome to the world of being a small business owner.

A few others have known this for a while, but I’ve left Digital Bond to form a new engineering firm to focus on cyber security for electrical power systems.

The past two years at Digital Bond has been a fantastic experience. I’ve had the opportunity to conduct assessments of Critical Infrastructure that I hadn’t had a chance to see before, and work with operators on improving the security of their control systems.

While working at Digital Bond, everywhere we went, every critical infrastructure had one requirement in common: a reliable source of electric power. Without this basic resource, most critical infrastructure would not function, and would not provide benefit to society. So, I’m refocusing efforts on the security of electric power systems. The new company is called Context Industrial Security, and is focused on providing cyber security consulting and design within the context of the process being controlled, and is focused on the security of electric power systems and the unique characteristics that affect their vulnerability.

I’m grateful to Digital Bond and to Dale for giving this engineer a chance to work on the bleeding edge of industrial control system security, and to interact with security, process, and operations persons who are dedicated to the security of control systems. I will still tweet and blog, but it will be from the (in development) website of Context Industrial Security (, and my personal twitter account (@mtoecker) for now.