SCADA system security

SCADA system vulnerabilities... Regarding your item about "Square D Powerlogic Ion EEM" dated 09/11/08 on My name is Bob Radvanovsky, and am the owner/moderator to the SCADASEC mailing list, an openly-available discussion forum discussing impacts resulting from vulnerabilities. Earlier this year, there were several vulnerabilities found with the CitectSCADA application, spec...
By Control Engineering Staff October 1, 2008

SCADA system vulnerabilities…

Regarding your item about “Square D Powerlogic Ion EEM” dated 09/11/08 on .

My name is Bob Radvanovsky, and am the owner/moderator to the SCADASEC mailing list, an openly-available discussion forum discussing impacts resulting from vulnerabilities. Earlier this year, there were several vulnerabilities found with the CitectSCADA application, specifically “in the ODBC server service, vulnerable organizations that do not require ODBC connectivity may disable the service with no adverse effects to the CitectSCADA software. Installations that require ODBC connectivity to SQL databases, spreadsheets, etc., will suffer loss of connection with ODBC data sources if this workaround is applied. Vulnerable organizations should obtain positive verification that ODBC connectivity is not necessary in their installation and prepare appropriate contingency procedures before the workaround is applied.” (taken from the US-CERT notification at )

This particular vulnerability has been discussed in great detail on our mailing list, and there are more coming out. You may want to notify your readers that there are vulnerabilities with Citect’s software. How this affects Square D products, I do not know, but am currently investigating this with our membership on the list. Additionally, I invite you to join the mailing list to see—first-hand—what is discussed regarding SCADA and control systems security related issues. Should you have any questions regarding this, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Bob Radvanovsky, CIFI, CISM, REM, CIPS
Infracritical, Inc.

…Citect response

Citect released a patch in June for the vulnerability found by Core Security Technologies and has since made a number of other changes to improve our security processes, products and capabilities.

Revised measures underway include, but are not limited to, an independent code audit, the provision of customer site review capabilities, and a new security knowledgebase with RSS feed. We have presented at conferences (both internal and external), held webinars and updated our security whitepapers to highlight to customers the importance of securing their control systems. In addition to revised internal security handling processes, we remain committed to working closely with security agencies, customers and partners to ensure that the installed base of Citect systems are protected from security breaches.

In addition, Citect will soon release a new version of CitectSCADA that applies further enhanced security measures to the software.

Since the original publication of the vulnerability relating to ODBC connectivity, we have been working with customers to encourage, and help them, apply the patch. To date, no customers have reported security breaches.

In the 21-year period over which Citect has been designing SCADA software, we have recommended to customers that they follow industry best practices in the development and implementation of control systems. In relation to security measures, our position on SCADA and process control network security is that, like any business systems, they must have the same, if not better, protection from unauthorized access. They must be secured by robust protection including firewalls, intrusion detection systems and VPNs. Further information on security can be found on our website, .

Stephen Flannigan
Global Director CitectSCADA

A security expert adds to the discussion

The ODBC buffer overflow vulnerability is one of many reasons to be concerned about the state of security within the industry, and particularly critical infrastructure. Recently, this specific vulnerability had its exploit code added to the Metasploit framework. This is a very important benchmark in the information security arena, considering that we have seen 10-year-old children successfully operate the Metasploit framework.

Ultimately, one of the biggest challenges faced by organizations regarding these types of events is that they must ensure: a) they have mechanisms established to become aware of such events in a timely fashion; b) they have the core competencies/expertise to understand the implications of such events; and c) they have the operational efficiencies and business processes to react to such events as expeditiously as possible. This is not an easy endeavor in any vertical, specifically in the “build once and only modify only if broken” environment that is typical in industry. We find that this is often the case regarding mainstream process control systems (DCS/SCADA).

While I understand there will always be scenarios that can not be prevented, it is mission-critical for organizations to have mechanisms in place to support proactive security operations.

Key questions related to proactive security operations that organizations should address include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Do you currently have a means to become aware of new vulnerabilities impacting your infrastructure immediately after such vulnerabilities are publicized?

  • Are you applying a defense in depth approach to your information security operations to minimize the likelihood of security breaches?

  • How turnkey are your change management and control, configuration management, and patch management processes once changes, configuration updates and/or patches become necessary?

  • Is the documentation for your systems architecture currently readily available and completely representative of the current state of your network infrastructure, control systems, etc.?

  • Are you operating in the presence of a sufficiently robust security incident response management framework? Has the framework ever been tested and validated?

Matthew E. Luallen, managing partner

Matt Luallen and his partner Steve Hamburg have begun the Industrial Cyber Security blog, available through . There you will find the latest news and advice about securing industrial networks and creating proactive security operations. You also can bring Matt and Steve your questions about DCS/SCADA security.

In search of switch specifics

In your article (“Automation, IT Find Teamwork Pays, August 2008) on p.64, there is a picture of an Allen-Bradley switch. Can you tell me the model number so that I can get some information on its specifications?

Mark W. Daniels, Utilities-Cogen Operations
Eastman Chemical Co.

Thank you for your question. It is in the Stratix 8000 line of Rockwell Automation’s modular managed switches.