Wednesday, April 6, 2011
SECURITY ISSUES in SCADA based systems
The move from proprietary technologies to more standardized and open solutions together with the increased number of connections between SCADA systems and office networks and the Internet has made them more vulnerable to attacks - see references. Consequently, the security of SCADA-based systems has come into question as they are increasingly seen as extremely vulnerable to cyberwarfare/cyberterrorism attacks
SCADA systems are used to control and monitor physical processes, examples of which are electrical SCADA system would cause financial losses to all the customers that received electricity from that source. How security will affect legacy SCADA and new deployments remains to be seen. transmission of electricity, transportation of gas and oil in pipelines, water distribution, traffic lights, and other systems used as the basis of modern society. The security of these SCADA systems is important because compromise or destruction of these systems would impact multiple areas of society far removed from the original compromise. For example, a blackout caused by a compromised
There are two distinct threats to a modern SCADA system. First is the threat of unauthorized access to the control software, whether it be human access or changes induced intentionally or accidentally by virus infections and other software threats residing on the control host machine. Second is the threat of packet access to the network segments hosting SCADA devices. In many cases, there is rudimentary or no security on the actual packet control protocol, so anyone who can send packets to the SCADA device can control it. In many cases SCADA users assume that a VPN is sufficient protection and are unaware that physical access to SCADA-related network jacks and switches provides the ability to totally bypass all security on the control software and fully control those SCADA networks. These kinds of physical access attacks bypass firewall and VPN security and are best addressed by endpoint-to-endpoint authentication and authorization such as are commonly provided in the non-SCADA world by in-device SSL or other cryptographic techniques.
Many vendors of SCADA and control products have begun to address these risks in a basic sense by developing lines of specialized industrial firewall and VPN solutions for TCP/IP-based SCADA networks. Additionally, application white listing solutions are being implemented because of their ability to prevent malware and unauthorized application changes without the performance impacts of traditional antivirus scans Also, the ISA Security Compliance Institute (ISCI) is emerging to formalize SCADA security testing starting as soon as 2009. ISCI is conceptually similar to private testing and certification that has been performed by vendors since 2007. Eventually, standards being defined by ISA99 WG4 will supersede the initial industry consortia efforts, but probably not before 2011 .
The increased interest in SCADA vulnerabilities has resulted in vulnerability researchers discovering vulnerabilities in commercial SCADA software and more general offensive SCADA techniques presented to the general security community. In electric and gas utility SCADA systems, the vulnerability of the large installed base of wired and wireless serial communications links is addressed in some cases by applying bump-in-the-wire devices that employ authentication and Advanced Encryption Standard encryption rather than replacing all existing nodes.