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Control System Data Acquisition Server Documentation

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Abstract

 

Control Systems Cyber Security Defense in Depth Strategies

Research has shown that information infrastructures across many public and private domains share several common attributes in IT deployment and data communications for control systems. A majority of the systems use robust architectures to enhance business and reduce costs by increasing the integration of external, business, and control system networks. However, multi-network integration strategies often lead to vulnerabilities that greatly reduce the security of an organization, and can expose mission-critical control systems to cyber threats. This document provides guidance and direction for developing 'defense-in-depth' strategies for organizations that use control system networks while maintaining a multi-tier information architecture that requires:

  • Maintenance of various field devices, telemetry collection, and/or industrial-level process systems
  • Access to facilities via remote data link or modem
  • Public facing services for customer or corporate operations

Creating Cyber Forensics Plans for Control Systems

Cyber forensics has been in the popular mainstream for some time, and has matured into an information-technology capability that is common among modern information security programs. Although scalable to many information technology domains, especially modern corporate architectures, developing a cyber forensics program can be a challenging task when being applied to nontraditional environments, such as control systems. Modern IT networks, through data exchange mechanisms, data storage devices, and general computing components provide a good foundation for creating a landscape used to support effective cyber forensics. However, modern control systems environments are not easily configurable to accommodate forensics programs. Nonstandard protocols, legacy architectures that can be several decades old, and irregular or extinct proprietary technologies can all combine to make the creation and operation of a cyber forensics program anything but a smooth and easy process.

This document takes the traditional concepts of cyber forensics and provides direction regarding augmentation for control systems operational environments. The goal is to provide guidance to the reader with specifics relating to the complexity of cyber forensics for control systems, guidance to allow organizations to create a self-sustaining cyber forensics program for their control systems environments, and guidance to support the maintenance and evolution of such programs.

This document is organized into three major sections:

  • Section 1, Traditional Forensics and Challenges to Control Systems
  • Section 2, Creating a Cyber Forensics Program for Control Systems Environments
  • Section 3, Activating and Sustaining a Cyber Forensics Program.

The document addresses the issues encountered in developing and maintaining a cyber forensics plan for control systems environments. This recommended practice supports forensic practitioners in creating a control systems forensics plan, and assumes evidentiary data collection and preservation using forensic best practices. The goal of this recommended practice is not to reinvent proven methods, but to leverage them in the best possible way. As such, the material in this recommended practice provides users with the appropriate foundation to allow these best practices to be effective in a control systems domain.

Hardening Guidelines for OPC Hosts

This report is the third of three white papers outlining the findings from a study on OPC security conducted by Byres Research, Digital Bond and the British Columbia Institute of Technology. The objective of this study was to create a series of simple, authoritative white papers that summarized current good practices for securing OPC client and server applications running on Windows-based hosts. The full study is divided into three Good Practice Guides for Securing OPC as follows:

  • OPC Security White Paper #1 – Understanding OPC and How it is Used: An introduction to what OPC is, what are its basic components and how is it actually deployed in the real world.
  • OPC Security White Paper #2 – OPC Exposed: What are the risks and vulnerabilities incurred in deploying OPC in a control environment?
  • OPC Security White Paper #3 – Hardening Guidelines for OPC Hosts: How can a server or workstation running OPC be secured in a simple and effective manner?

All three white papers are intended to be read and understood by IT administrators and control systems technicians who have no formal background in either Windows programming or security analysis.

Mitigations for Security Vulnerabilities Found in Control System Networks

Industry is aware of the need for Control System (CS) security, but in on-site assessments, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has observed that security procedures and devices are not consistently and effectively implemented. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Cyber Security Division (NCSD), established the Control Systems Security Center (CSSC) at INL to help industry and government improve the security of the CSs used in the nation’s critical infrastructures. One of the main CSSC objectives is to identify control system vulnerabilities and develop effective mitigations for them. This paper discusses common problems and vulnerabilities seen in on-site CS assessments and suggests mitigation strategies to provide asset owners with the information they need to better protect their systems from common security flaws.

An Undirected Attack Against Critical Infrastructure: A Case Study for Improving Your Control System Security

Computer virus incidents cost companies billions of dollars every year. While antivirus technologies for detection and containment are attempting to keep pace, the threat is constantly evolving. The attack vector is no longer simply an infected executable on a floppy disk. Email, websites, macro-enabled documents, instant messages, peer-to-peer networks, cell phones, and other interconnected systems are all potential entry points onto our networks for a wide range of malware [1]. Our ability to successfully defend these entry points, as well as recover in the event of a given contamination, needs improvement.

Such is the situation for the water treatment facility featured in this case study, where systems on its networks were repeatedly compromised by malware over the span of a couple days. Symptoms of this infection are first noted when network performance degrades significantly on several systems, but the actual compromise is not recognized until the Internet Service Provider (ISP) of the facility relays a message regarding a suspected worm outbreak emanating from the facility’s network. The offending systems are eventually identified, taken off-line, scanned, and disinfected. Unfortunately, the source carrier (a mobile laptop) of the worm is not identified and cleaned during the initial recovery process. Even though steps were being taken to address the vulnerability issues in the environment, the day after restoring operations, systems on the network are once again infected, further compounding the overall incident. Unable to effectively defend against and respond to the outbreak results in a loss of data, disruption in operation, and ultimately substantial financial impacts.

Attack Methodology Analysis: SQL Injection Attacks

Database applications have become a core component in control systems and their associated record keeping utilities. Traditional security models attempt to secure systems by isolating core software components and concentrating security efforts against threats specific to those computers or software components. Database security within control systems follows these models by using generally independent systems that rely on one another for proper functionality. The high level of reliance between the two systems creates an expanded threat surface.

To understand the scope of a threat surface, all segments of the control system, with an emphasis on entry points, must be examined. The communication link between data and decision layers is the primary attack surface for SQL injection. This paper facilitates understanding what SQL injection is and why it is a significant threat to control system environments.

Backdoors and Holes in Network Perimeters: A Case Study for Improving Your Control System Security

The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system of a natural gas utility was compromised resulting in a reduction of operation. The breach was discovered when operator interfaces became unresponsive and the system was no longer acquiring data. As a result, the system was disconnected from the network and a combination of manual operation overrides and limited fail-over to a backup server went into effect until the environment could be restored. Technicians troubleshooting the incident identified the deletion of several core application files on the primary control server as the source of the problem.

Common Control System Vulnerability

The Control Systems Security Program and other programs within the Idaho National Laboratory have discovered a vulnerability common to control systems in all sectors that allows an attacker to penetrate most control systems, spoof the operator, and gain full control of targeted system elements. This vulnerability has been identified on several systems that have been evaluated at INL, and in each case a 100% success rate of completing the attack paths that lead to full system compromise was observed. Since these systems are employed in multiple critical infrastructure sectors, this vulnerability is deemed common to control systems in all sectors.

Modern control systems architectures can be considered analogous to today’s information networks, and as such are usually approached by attackers using a common attack methodology to penetrate deeper and deeper into the network. This approach often is composed of several phases, including gaining access to the control network, reconnaissance, profiling of vulnerabilities, launching attacks, escalating privilege, maintaining access, and obscuring or removing information that indicates that an intruder was on the system. With irrefutable proof that an external attack can lead to a compromise of a computing resource on the organization’s business local area network (LAN), access to the control network is usually considered the first phase in the attack plan. Once the attacker gains access to the control network through direct connections and/or the business LAN, the second phase of reconnaissance begins with traffic analysis within the control domain. Thus, the communications between the workstations and the field device controllers can be monitored and evaluated, allowing an attacker to capture, analyze, and evaluate the commands sent among the control equipment. Through manipulation of the communication protocols of control systems (a process generally referred to as “reverse engineering”), an attacker can then map out the control system processes and functions. With the detailed knowledge of how the control data functions, as well as what computers and devices communicate using this data, the attacker can use a well known Man-in-the-Middle attack to perform malicious operations virtually undetected.

The control systems assessment teams have used this method to gather enough information about the system to craft an attack that intercepts and changes the information flow between the end devices (controllers) and the human machine interface (HMI and/or workstation). Using this attack, the cyber assessment team has been able to demonstrate complete manipulation of devices in control systems while simultaneously modifying the data flowing back to the operator’s console to give false information of the state of the system (known as “spoofing”). This is a very effective technique for a control system attack because it allows the attacker to manipulate the system and the operator’s situational awareness of the perceived system status. The three main elements of this attack technique are: 1) network reconnaissance and data gathering, 2) reverse engineering, and 3) the Man-in-the-Middle attack.

DHS Bulletin: Securing Control Systems

Control Systems (CS) manage the nation’s Critical Infrastructure; therefore, it is paramount that secure systems be established. However, integrating security into control system environments is a much more inflexible process than in general IT networks. In lieu of this and the incredibly varied architecture of CS network architecture, control systems administrators and operators must carefully review the recommendations for securing control system networks before applying the changes. Testing and deployment of security configurations or updates should be performed on development, test, or backup systems and monitored carefully for impact before being put into practice on a production control system.

OPC Exposed

This report is the second of three white papers outlining the findings from a study on OPC security conducted by Byres Research, Digital Bond and the British Columbia Institute of Technology. The objective of this study was to create a series of simple, authoritative white papers that summarized current good practices for securing OPC client and server applications running on Windows-based hosts. The full study is divided into three Good Practice Guides for Securing OPC as follows:

  • OPC Security White Paper #1 – Understanding OPC and How it is Used: An introduction to what OPC is, what are its basic components and how is it actually deployed in the real world.
  • OPC Security White Paper #2 – OPC Exposed: What are the risks and vulnerabilities incurred in deploying OPC in a control environment?
  • OPC Security White Paper #3 – Hardening Guidelines for OPC Hosts: How can a server or workstation running OPC be secured in a simple and effective manner?

All three white papers are intended to be read and understood by IT administrators and control systems technicians who have no formal background in either Windows programming or security analysis.

Security Implications of OPC, OLE, DCOM, and RPC in Control Systems

OPC is a collection of software programming standards and interfaces used in the process control industry. It is intended to provide open connectivity and vendor equipment interoperability. The use of OPC technology simplifies the development of control systems that integrate components from multiple vendors and support multiple control protocols. OPC-compliant products are available from most control system vendors, and are widely used in the process control industry.

OPC was originally known as OLE for Process Control; the first standards for OPC were based on underlying services in the Microsoft Windows computing environment. These underlying services (OLE [Object Linking and Embedding], DCOM [Distributed Component Object Model], and RPC [Remote Procedure Call]) have been the source of many severe security vulnerabilities. It is not feasible to automatically apply vendor patches and service packs to mitigate these vulnerabilities in a control systems environment. Control systems using the original OPC data access technology can thus inherit the vulnerabilities associated with these services.

Current OPC standardization efforts are moving away from the original focus on Microsoft protocols, with a distinct trend toward web-based protocols that are independent of any particular operating system. However, the installed base of OPC equipment consists mainly of legacy implementations of the OLE for Process Control protocols.

Understanding OPC and How it is Deployed

This report is the first of three white papers outlining the findings from a study on OPC security conducted by Byres Research, Digital Bond and the British Columbia Institute of Technology. The objective of this study was to create a series of simple, authoritative white papers that summarized current good practices for securing OPC client and server applications running on Windows-based hosts. The full study is divided into three Good Practice Guides for Securing OPC as follows:

  • OPC Security White Paper #1 – Understanding OPC and How it is Used: An introduction to what OPC is, what are its basic components and how is it actually deployed in the real world.
  • OPC Security White Paper #2 – OPC Exposed: What are the risks and vulnerabilities incurred in deploying OPC in a control environment?
  • OPC Security White Paper #3 – Hardening Guidelines for OPC Hosts: How can a server or workstation running OPC be secured in a simple and effective manner?

All three white papers are intended to be read and understood by IT administrators and control systems technicians who have no formal background in either Windows programming or security analysis.

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