Skip to comments.Siemens: Stuxnet worm hit industrial systems
Posted on 09/16/2010 11:11:46 AM PDT by cartan
A sophisticated worm designed to steal industrial secrets and disrupt operations has infected at least 14 plants, according to Siemens.
Called Stuxnet, the worm was discovered in July when researchers at VirusBlokAda found it on computers in Iran. It is one of the most sophisticated and unusual pieces of malicious software ever created—the worm leveraged a previously unknown Windows vulnerability (now patched) that allowed it to spread from computer to computer, typically via USB sticks.
The worm, designed to attack Siemens industrial control systems, has not spread widely. However, it has affected a number of Siemens plants, according to company spokesman Simon Wieland. “We detected the virus in the SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] systems of 14 plants in operation but without any malfunction of process and production and without any damage,” he said in an e-mail message.
This is worrisome news because according to a new paper on the worm, set to be delivered at this month’s Virus Bulletin conference in Vancouver, Stuxnet could be used to cause a significant amount of damage if it is not properly removed.
Researchers at Symantec have cracked Stuxnet’s cryptographic system, and they say it is the first worm built not only to spy on industrial systems, but also to reprogram them.
Once installed on a PC, Stuxnet uses Siemens’ default passwords to seek out and try to gain access to systems that run the WinCC and PCS 7 programs—so-called PLC (programmable logic controller) programs that are used to manage large-scale industrial systems on factory floors and in military installations and chemical and power plants.
(Excerpt) Read more at computerworld.com ...
The punning opportunities here are...rife.
It could be a growth industry. Lord knows we need ‘em.
First things first... don’t use default passwords.
Actually, this is a really smart move.
Siemens controllers are used in air conditioners and facility controllers, as well as Generators in power plants.
You could really clobber infrastructure by knocking power plants offline, locking buildings so access would not be possible, and shutting down Air conditioners in data centers.
Any guesses as to what Nation would want to use such a system?
“I dont know who did this, but it definitely wasnt some stupid script kiddie, nor a college student, nor some loner working on it in his spare time. Cyber warfare is real, and getting more and more dangerous. “
I would say a very large nation whose name starts with C; would be a good guess.
Yes, C, or perhaps R. Both countries have plenty of smart, technical people, unlike the countries of the peaceful religion.
Yeah. This could be a big deal. Twenty years ago I programmed PLCs for industrial and security (i.e. prisons) systems.
PLCs are used everywhere...factories, power plants, refineries, and the list goes on and on and on.
Sheesh, Seimens isn't hiring rocket scientists in it's IT division, is it? This is downright stupid.
Perhaps the manual was in German.
There is a lot of weird stuff going on. Citi Bank had huge problems this week and there has been other stuff.
Here’s the lesson that should be learned - Don’t connect a sensitive industrial control system to the Internet.
Second, I'm not at all convinced you COULD write a virus that would infect a PLC. Their memory architecture, both from a hardware standpoint and the functional allocation of it would mitigate against it.
Thirdly, there would be little reason to even try unless it's an inside job, because the installations are all different. No one outside the project has any way of knowing that Q56.7 (Siemens speak for an output connected to some actuator) is the shear cylinder valve output.
So in short, the story here is that people used hardware and software viewed by the experienced, sensible, and cautious sector of their community as too vulnerable and unreliable for management of critical processes, and ended up getting burned. That's newsworthy?
Virtual PLC (it's virtually as good!)
Thirdly, there would be little reason to even try unless it's an inside job, because the installations are all different. No one outside the project has any way of knowing that Q56.7 (Siemens speak for an output connected to some actuator) is the shear cylinder valve output.Yeah, I was wondering about that myself. Perhaps some of them keep the schematics on the same PCs that are running PCS7 ;-). During the Cold War, the commies had no problems getting the schematics for absolutely anything.
So in short, the story here is that people used hardware and software viewed by the experienced, sensible, and cautious sector of their community as too vulnerable and unreliable for management of critical processes, and ended up getting burned. That's newsworthy?Well, it did enter at least 14 plants, in “the U.K., North America, Korea,” and, mostly, Iran. And it looks like some foreign government is behind this. Even if the sysops were incompetent, it is newsworthy.
Still wondering about the default passwords. How could that happen?
Doktor Fritz Ferdinand von Wonkersleben: Remember, Akhmed, you need to change the passwords.
Akhmed: Stop talking down to me, infidel dog!
The first is a good point, and the second is for any target of high value to the hacker, as these plants would be in the scenario you describe.
Well, it did enter at least 14 plants, in the U.K., North America, Korea, and, mostly, Iran. And it looks like some foreign government is behind this. Even if the sysops were incompetent, it is newsworthy.
Hmmm, true. I guess it IS news after all but the headline should be "Incompetent controls engineers endanger US infrastructure! Immediate corrective action necessary!"
True, hehehe :-)
Why is this not done? I'm not an IT guy, but I can't imagine it not being impossible.
Typically, remote sites are connected to a primary control center (if at all) through a satellite connection. But some companies choose to install modules that allow connection through an internet gateway. All it takes is the right credentials and anyone can get into the system from any computer.
Again - why?
They choose the internet gateway for a number of reasons. It is far more cost effective than leasing the satellite equipment and connection. It is also cheaper than hiring additional personnel to man the equipment or even be present at a small facility at all hours of the day.