S4x15 Video – Ginter on Embedding Malware in ICS Protocols

Andrew Ginter of Waterfall Security Solutions speaks on Embedding Malware in ICS Protocols. His conclusion is this is harder than one thinks. The easier solution might be to use the SQL server, web server, ftp server, or other commonly exploited protocols that ICS applications integrate.

Fair warning – the second half of the session gets a bit commercial on his/Waterfall’s view on why unidirectional security solves ICS security challenges.

ICSage Video: Eireann Leverett on Catastronomics

Eireann Leverett of the University of Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies looks at control system related catastrophe scenarios and the economic impact of these scenarios with an eye towards how insurance and reinsurance policies will be written and priced.

Admittedly critical infrastructure cyber security is a new topic in an insurance industry that has been around hundreds of years. Eireann points out that insuring against malicious attacks is not new to the insurance company. They insured against piracy on the seas.

The session provides some relevant macro economics in easy to understand language and graphs, and Eireann admits “we’re inventing rough metrics in a land of no metrics”.

His initial efforts are related to an important cyber incident that could impact the US, UK and European bulk electric system. The % loss of GDP due to an incident sounds like a good measure if it can be credibly calculated.

The Q&A in this session was particularly good, which is understandable since there are more questions than answers at this time. It’s a fertile field for those looking for an important economic problem.

For what it’s worth … this was my 18-month old daughter’s favorite session.

  • Critical Intelligence

Unsolicited Response Podcast: SANS ICS 410 Course & GICSP

Episode 2015:2 SANS ICS Security Training and Certification

SANS provided four individuals for our Unsolicited Response podcast on the 5-day ICS 410: ICS/SCADA Security Essentials training course and the related Global Industrial Cyber Security Professional (GICSP) certification.

  • Scott Cassity, Managing Director of GIAC
  • Mike Assante, SANS Lead for ICS/SCADA security training
  • Justin Searle, SANS Instructor and major course content creator
  • Graham Speake, SANS Instructor and participant in GICSP creation

In the hour long discussion we cover:

  • Why SANS developed an ICS certification and training course
  • The difficulties and benefits of having a mix of IT Security and OT students in the class
  • How the course and certification were created and how they are structured
  • Early feedback on the course and certification along with likely changes and possible future courses (2-day course) and certifications
  • The number of students trained and the number of certified GICSP
  • Why SANS courses are so expensive relative to other courses
  • How should a potential employer view an individual who has the GICSP certification

I also gave the SANS team a chance to answer the criticism that this is an IT Security course from an IT security organization.

I appreciate SANS providing so much time and resources to the podcast. I think there is a fair argument on how the SANS course rates in comparison to the competition, and it might depend on the attendee profile and goal of taking the course. The one thing that SANS has going for it is they know how to scale up to train thousands of students, and this is needed in the ICS security space.

Related Links:

I’m committed to a minimum of 20 podcasts in 2015; this is episode 2. We will wait until five episodes are recorded before bringing on podcast sponsors, but let us know if you are interested in sponsoring Unsolicited Response.

Subscribe to the Unsolicited Response Podcast in iTunes.

S4x15 CTF ICS Village Page

The Capture The Flag (CTF) contest in the ICS Village at S4x15 was a big hit. We have had numerous requests from attendees and those that heard about it for more information and data. So Stephen has put together a page of information. The page includes:

  • Examples of flags in each of the five categories
  • Packet captures with ICS protocol and attack data (the most requested item)
  • Screenshots of detected data and the scoreboard
  • Pictures from the ICS Village
  • An explanation of the event

You may also want to watch an interview with the team that won the CTF.

Great job by Stephen and the team of volunteers who put the CTF together and kept it running under three days of attacks. It puts a lot of pressure on the team to make it bigger and better for S4x16.

S4x15 Video: Ralph Langner or Cyber-Physical Attack Engineering

Ralph Langner presented at ICSage: ICS Cyber Weapons during S4x15 Week. As always Ralph is introducing new thoughts to push the industry forward, but this session is more on how to orient and organize the ICS communities’ thinking on attack / defense on ICS.

There is entirely too much attention paid to 0days and compromising an ICS computer or application. This is still trivial to do based on code quality and is almost always unnecessary. A more useful line of thinking is what would or could an attacker do with this access, what would be the intended result, and what can we do to defend against it.

  • At the 9 minute mark, Ralph discusses different types of ICS cyber-physical attacks.
  • At the 22 minute mark, he breaks down impact categories of cyber-physical attacks.
  • At the 29 minute mark, he discusses examples of how to identify the defensive controls to prevent catastrophic results.

The pull quote, in my opinion, was “is there any combination of bits and bytes that if I throw that at this plant will result in harmful physical effects? This is a question that can be answered through engineering methodology”.

S4x15 Video: ICS Malware with Kyle Wilhoit

Kyle Wilhoit has found and analyzed a large portion of the ICS malware found in 2014 / 2015. He goes into the details of:

– The Sandworm group looking for Internet exposed HMI and their targets

– Blacken / Black Energy targeting the GE Cimplicity HMI

– Havex scanning OPC Servers (including videos showing it being installed and exploiting the system)

– Trojanized SCADA software … WinCC (32 samples), Advantech (24), and Cimplicity

S4x15 Video: Kaspersky Control System OS

Kaspersky announced their project to develop a Control System OS back in October 2012. We tried to get them to present some details on the design criteria and goals at S4x13 and S4x14 without success. So we were very happy to have Andrey Nikishin give a session on the Kaspersky.

In this video you will see:

– the OS is for “embedded connected devices” (examples given: Smart Grid, PLC, Medical Devices, Network Appliances, Automobiles)

– the OS is not a clone of any *nix

– a broad view of the architecture including separating the microkernal from the security server. The security server determines the “security verdict” for all communication.

– the concept of a “verdict cache”

There still are many unanswered questions, and Andrey forestalled these questions by asking the questions he would not answer at the end of the session.

Get The ICS Security Research Newsletter


The ICS Security Research Newsletter has been dormant for a while now, but Reid Wightman and the team at Digital Bond Labs has resurrected it. They are committed to at least a quarterly issue in 2015.

The first issue for 2015 includes:

  • Information on the IBAL extensions for IDA Pro
  • Equipment Disposal Failures
  • Latest Project Redpoint ICS Enumeration Scripts
  • Auto Hacking x 2
  • Additional items we found interesting, novel or important.

You can see issue 15-1 at this link, and subscribe to the ICS Security Research newsletter at this link.

Unsolicited Response Podcast – Interview with Kim Zetter from S4x15


We had Kim Zetter on stage for an interview at ICSage during S4x15 Week to discuss her new book: Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon. This first 2015 episode of the Unsolicited Response Podcast features that interview.

The podcast includes:

  • Who was the target audience for the book
  • Why Siemens didn’t play a bigger role in the book
  • The hard to believe Sean McGurk chapter
  • Did the US want Stuxnet to be discovered
  • How her book differed from David Sanger’s book
  • How Stuxnet infected Natanz
  • Details on Stuxnet version 0.5 that only spread through Siemens project files

The Unsolicited Response Podcast has been inactive for a while now, which is a shame because I enjoy doing it and get a lot of positive feedback. Much of the difficulty in recording the podcast has been solved now that I have a very mobile podcast rig that I can bring with while traveling.

I’m committed to a minimum of 20 podcasts in 2015, and there are a few compelling guests already lined up. We will wait until five episodes are recorded before bringing on podcast sponsors, but let us know if you are interested in sponsoring Unsolicited Response.

Subscribe to the Unsolicited Response Podcast in iTunes.

S4x15 Video – Introducing IBAL for IDA Pro

Digital Bond Labs has been using the IDA Pro API to extend it and make it even more useful for gray / black box testing. At S4x15 Reid Wightman, who heads up the Labs, introduced the first IDA Binary Analysis Library (IBAL) that are released for public consumption on our GitHub.

The goal of IBAL is to improve the state of firmware analysis.

Fuzzing will find a lot of protocol parsing vulnerabilities, but it can also miss a lot of protocol parsing vulnerabilities.

The early IBAL modules start with entry point analysis and then builds up a list of accessible instructions from that entry point. Then a researcher looks for coding mistakes in that accessible code.

Watch the video for a much better technical description of IBAL and how to use it.