Black Hat 2010: SCADA systems far more insecure than enterprise IT systems

Share this article:
SCADA systems, used to manage operations at places such as power plants and gas and oil refineries, often contain known vulnerabilities and unnecessary software, making them ripe for exploitation, according to researchers at critical infrastructure security consultancy Red Tiger Security.

In its analysis of approximately 120 critical infrastructure facilities, researchers at the firm discovered 38,753 vulnerabilities, Jonathan Pollet, founder and principal consultant for Red Tiger Security, said during a session Wednesday at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

Moreover, there was a 331 day-gap between the time a vulnerability was disclosed in the public and when it is discovered in an industrial control systems assessment, Pollet said. One system contained a vulnerability that was disclosed three years prior to when it was discovered in the SCADA environment.

Almost every assessment uncovered unnecessary software installed on SCADA systems, such as instant messaging chat clients, online dating service databases and online gaming software servers, he said. In addition, some SCADA systems contained botnet and malware code.

Overall, SCADA systems are far less secure than enterprise IT systems, Pollet said. Unlike enterprise systems, SCADA environments allow no downtime or planned outages and, consequently, are difficult to patch and maintain in a secure way, he said.

Malware writers are targeting critical infrastructure control systems and even worse, the advanced persistent threat (APT) has been creeping into the SCADA deployments, Pollet said.

“Are we winning the cyberwar?" questioned Pollett. “It's hard to when we are asleep. It's time for us to step up the game.”

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of SC Magazine to post a comment.

Sign up to our newsletters

TOP COMMENTS

More in News

ISSA tackles workforce gap with career lifecycle program

ISSA tackles workforce gap with career lifecycle program ...

On Thursday, the group launched its Cybersecurity Career Lifecycle (CSCL) program.

Amplification DDoS attacks most popular, according to Symantec

Amplification DDoS attacks most popular, according to Symantec

The company noted in a whitepaper released on Tuesday that Domain Name Server amplification attacks have increased 183 percent between January and August.

Court shutters NY co. selling security software with "no value"

A federal court shut down Pairsys at the request of the Federal Trade Commission.